Scotland was referred to as “the Saudi Arabia of Wave Power” in the headline of a recent Fortune article. And while that might be a bit of a stretch, the Scottish government said today it will offer a $20 million prize for innovation in marine power. The First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, will make the announcement in a speech on renewable energy at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. this morning.
The Scottish government claims the Saltire Prize will be the “world’s largest single prize for marine power technology;” to qualify, researchers must prove the commercial viability of the technology in Scotland waters. And according to the BBC, Salmond will use the prize and the speech to also urge U.S. marine power firms to come to Scotland.
Update: The government’s PR team just sent us over a text of Salmond’s speech. He says one sea area, “Pentland Firth,” could generate as much as 40GW of renewable power, and points out Scotland’s goal to meet at least 31 percent of electricity demand from renewables by 2011, and 50 percent by 2020. And Salmond calls the Saltire prize “a call to action.”
The prize is pretty substantial for a technology that has yet to get a lot of traction throughout the world. By comparison, the Auto X-Prize is offering $10 million for commercially viable green cars, and the Virgin Earth Challenge has put up $25 million for innovation to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Scottish seas could be important for getting Europe to adopt renewable power. The BBC says the waters around the country could generate “a quarter of Europe’s tidal power and 10 percent of the continent’s wave energy.” Scotland already has a $29.5 million floating tidal and wave testing lab and the utility Scottish Power is working on what it claims to be the world’s largest commercial wave “farm.” Let the marine power games begin.