YOUR article on the need for more storage systems (typically pumped storage) for renewable electricity was very interesting and touched on a number of important issues (‘Green ceiling’ on renewables has to be addressed, July 25).

Renewable energy is, by its nature, variable, although certain types (tidal) can be at least predicted. To smooth out these variations we need better storage techniques, whether large-scale (pumped storage) or small-scale (battery walls at individual properties). What we must avoid is an unseemly rush to flood much of the upland landscape of Scotland (and Wales, where I live, which also has a lot of pumped storage and is, incidentally, the fifth largest exporter of electricity on the planet!). Yes, we need more storage, but it has to be carefully and sensibly sited.

Of course there are other options, which have still not reached maturity – using temporarily surplus renewable electricity to create hydrogen, thus storing the energy in the hydrogen, which potentially can provide a more flexible alternative for vehicles. Battery options are very limited (and environmentally damaging – through the mining of the materials).

One point I have to disagree with though, is the comment: “The Scottish Government has committed to reaching net-zero – the point at which the same volume of greenhouse gases is being emitted as is being absorbed through offsetting techniques such as forestry – by 2045”.

Net-zero means just that. No extra carbon added to the ecosystem. This cannot be achieved by using forestry to balance the burning of fossil fuels. Forestry simply delays the release of the carbon – it locks it up as the trees grow, but then releases it when they are cut down and burnt, decay or whatever.

Net-zero for fossil fuel use can only come by capturing and locking up the carbon for ever – and all the proposed methods for that are expensive and complicated. Carbon from biomass, though, is a closed cycle. Plants remove carbon from the air, and release it when they decay. So long as new plants are then planted to replace the ones harvested, the cycle can continue indefinitely. We have to wean ourselves off all use of fossil fuels, very rapidly.

Nigel Callaghan
Taliesin, Machynlleth

WE are delighted to see people who have been in the care system are to be guaranteed an offer of a university place if they meet minimum entry requirements. All 18 Scottish universities which use the main admissions system have agreed to make the change, and it is hoped this might double the number of Scottish students with experience of the care system from about 300 to 600.

It should be noted that those who are care experienced represent some of the most disadvantaged members of society and experience some of the poorest outcomes. They face a high risk of homelessness, destitution, loneliness and sometimes prison.

When it comes to university admissions they lag well behind their peers, with only 4% of care leavers going onto higher education compared with 39% of all school leavers.

While this move is extremely encouraging, we know that there is much more to do to ensure that our looked after children are able to fulfil their potential and reach a stage of even being able to contemplate going to university.

It is widely recognised, for example, that people who have been in care face particular challenges at school and have lower educational outcomes than those who have not. For example, their education may have been disrupted as they moved between carers. So, while progress has been made, there is still much to be done to support these vulnerable children and young people reach their full potential, overcoming the challenges that so many young people who have grown up in care face.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition: Tom McGhee, Chairman, Spark of Genius; Duncan Dunlop, Chief Executive, Who Cares? Scotland; Kenny Graham, Principal, Falkland House School; Niall Kelly, Managing Director, Young Foundations; Lynn Bell, CEO, LOVE learning