ONCE again, for almost all of this past week, renewables have been failing us and the UK and Scotland on several days were heavily importing electricity to keep the lights on and infrastructure running.

At breakfast this morning (08.20, January 18) gas was providing the UK with 25GW, which was 57% of demand, equivalent to the previous output of 10 Longannets.

Six of our 10 ageing nuclear reactors are shut down, four due to steam valve failure and related testing and those will not restart until the end of January, early February.

We have been running coal 24/7 for all of the week.

Wind generation had almost collapsed for the umpteenth time this past week, providing only 13.8% today from an installed capacity equivalent to 75% of this morning's demand with Europe's entire offshore generation, including the UK, only meeting 2.5% of European demand. Solar was producing 0% as it is a late riser and generally unable through much of the year to support daily UK industry start-up.

Almost all UK gas generating stations are owned by overseas companies, with Uniper of Germany, which owns seven, last year reporting a Euro 40bn net loss. This was the biggest loss in post-war German corporate history.

Fourteen per cent of our gas comes from Qatar, which today confirmed shipments will cease via the Suez Canal, implying that deliveries will be delayed. The UK has the lowest gas storage capability of the major European countries at only a few days compared to Germany at 89 days, France at 103 and the Netherlands at 123.

This morning French nuclear was supporting much of Europe, supplying the UK with 3GW, which matched the loss from our six closed reactors, while dispatching 3GW to Germany, 2GW to Switzerland and 3.3GW to Italy.

Yes, the UK last week issued the Civil Nuclear Roadmap 2050 with the ambition of providing 25GW of nuclear generation in support of net zero while stabilising the renewables-weakened grid. Bearing in mind that EDF will be retiring all of the present UK nuclear reactors bar one by 2030 and that the Chinese are believed to be withholding recent payments on their Hinckley Point C joint venture with them, this looks a very challenging road indeed.

As a chartered electrical engineer I remain dismayed but unsurprised to find a prominent website bearing the word "green" this morning advising the general public that "the UK Government has set a goal to quadruple offshore wind to produce 40,000MW by 2030 from 2020 production levels. This would sufficiently power every UK home with offshore wind in 2030."

What absolute nonsense, as clearly demonstrated by this week's figures: a situation that occurs regularly throughout the year.

The UK wind industry claims on the one hand that the UK dominates the offshore wind market, owning a quarter of the present total global portfolio, but appears to have successfully convinced our technologically-illiterate politicians to increase Contracts for Difference in the recent fifth round of renewables auction by 66% - having first, collectively, refused to bid for any.

Lenin is quoted as saying "Every society is three meals away from chaos". MI5 is quoted as advising that society "is four meals away from anarchy".

DB Watson, Cumbernauld.

Read more: We would have fared better during Covid if UK had been in full control

Covid: Scotland did better than UK

WILLIAM Loneskie (Letters, January 17) makes the point that Scotland would have done better during Covid had the UK been in full control.

This is simply not backed up by the stats. Professor Thomas Hale, supplying figures to the UK Covid Inquiry, shows that in terms of deaths per 100,000, England is 19th worst in the world, Wales 30th worst, Scotland 38th worst and Northern Ireland 52nd worst.

Prior to the vaccine rollout, England was fourth worst, Wales fifth worst and Scotland 17th worst. Northern Ireland at that time was 27th worst. These figures were produced by the Johns Hopkins University in the USA and Statista.com.

As for Mr Loneskie’s assertion that we would have been better following Sweden’s lax adherence to lockdown, this also lacks credence. A fair comparison is not between Sweden and major European countries. Much better is a comparison between Sweden and its Scandinavian neighbours who chose strict lockdown rules. In that regard Sweden (219 deaths per 100,000) fared far worse than Finland (152 per 100.000), Denmark (136 per 100,000) and Norway (92 per 100,000.

Regarding our success in the UK in quick provision of the vaccine, this could still have been accomplished within the EU. Even so, only Italy among major western democracies has a worse Covid death rate per capita (310.89 per 100,000) than the UK (297.79 per 100,000).

Belgium, Portugal, Spain, France, Austria, Germany and Switzerland among others, all fared better.

Roger Graham, Inverkip.

• WILLIAM Loneskie again states wrongly that the UK Government was able to pursue its own vaccine programme due to being free from EU rules. Let me clarify again.

First, we were still technically part of the EU; it was all instigated during the transition period.

Secondly, there was aside from that fact nothing at all in EU rules to stop any country pursuing its own strategy, which the UK did.

Michael Luck, Bearsden.

Tuition is not 'free'

ONCE again I am baffled that one of your correspondents, Rebecca McQuillan, considers Scotland's provision of university education to be "free" ("We need to rethink student funding fast", The Herald, January 18). It's not. We pay for it through taxation, along with "free" personal care for the elderly and "free" prescriptions and eye tests. These are policies clearly outlined in the SNP manifesto and are policies for which we voted.

What none of us voted for is the bungling incompetence of those tasked with delivering these policies.

Ms McQuillan calls for a rethink of the university funding policy. She is wrong. The policy is right. Its implementation, along with many others, is a travesty of what we asked for.

Steve Brennan, Coatbridge.

No confidence in Scots pound

POINTS have been raised again about what currency an independent Scotland would use (Letters, January 17). I would like to report on some experiences I've had which relate to this issue.

In 2013 I flew to Istanbul airport in Turkey and went to a kiosk to pay for the visa which you needed back then. They refused to accept Scottish pounds and would only take Bank of England pounds. In 2023 I was in Turkey again and the airport transfer company wouldn't accept Scottish pounds. On the way home I stayed in an English town near Gatwick and a shop refused to take Scottish pounds.

If some businesses outside Scotland don't have confidence in Scottish pounds how confident would they be with an independent Scottish currency?

Geoff Moore, Alness.

Read more: Attack is the only form of defence in the Middle East

Ordeal of the Palestinians

DR Gerald Edwards (Letters, January 18) is putting what I view as simple prejudices on show.

Yes, Hamas's attack on October 7 was horrendous, but Israel's response has been completely disproportionate, with many analysts now describing the killing of more than 25,000 people, including women, children, academics and journalists, as "genocidal".

Dr Edwards believes Hamas's aim is to completely destroy Israel. I would argue there's no hard evidence of that, though the UN's top court recently heard of Israel's plan to "destroy" Gaza that came from "the highest level of state".

In my view Hamas's ultimate intention is to end Israel's 66 year-long occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem and give Palestinians their freedom.

Since 1967 Israel has controlled their lives, jailing many, including children, for years without charge. It has redrawn the boundaries originally created by Britain after the Second World War, bulldozed homes and allowed illegal Jewish settlements to be built in their place.

Farmers are denied access to their olive fields or seen them destroyed. Fishermen are restricted as to where they can fish. Israeli patrol boats along the Gaza coast see to that. Workers spend hours at Israeli checkpoints trying to reach their place of employment.

Palestinians have been under attack by Israel for generations. How do they defend themselves?

Dare I suggest if you are in a country being occupied by an aggressive force attack is the only form of defence?

Andy Stenton, Glasgow.

The Herald: Recep Tayyip ErdoğanRecep Tayyip Erdoğan (Image: PA)

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Yousaf should be ashamed

I SEE our First Minister has invited President Erdoğan to Scotland - a man who supports Hamas ("Diplomatic row as Yousaf invites Erdoğan to Scotland", heraldscotland, January 18). Humza Yousaf should hang his head in shame, assuming he has any.

Michael Watson, Glasgow.