Ocean Energy Groups Line Up for Scotland's Saltire Prize

There’s a cash prize in them thar waters! The government of Scotland said today that its £10 million ($14.5 million) Saltire Prize for ocean energy has pulled in 33 registrations of interest from around the world. Scotland, already a major hub for wave and tidal power research, raised its ocean energy profile when it announced the creation of the Saltire Prize in April.

At the time, the Scottish government called it the world’s largest single prize for marine power technology. Although it’s open to groups from other countries, they must prove the commercial viability of their technology in Scotland’s waters.

The registrations of interest follow the release earlier this month of some criteria for the competition. The prize will be awarded to the team that can demonstrate a commercially viable wave or tidal power system that generates at least 100 gigawatt hours of power over two years. The technology will also be judged based on cost, environmental sustainability and safety.

The government did not disclose which groups registered interest in the prize, but it’s likely a who’s-who of the ocean energy industry. In a statement, Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond would only say that the interest comes from “some of the great companies and best minds in the world,” including groups from the U.S., Australia, South Africa, India, Mexico, Italy, France, Norway and Spain, as well as Scotland and England.

The Scottish government said the potential wave and tidal capacity in its waters is estimated at 21.5 GW, with studies showing that Pentland Firth, off the northern tip of Scotland, could provide almost 10 percent of total UK electricity demand.

Scotland currently has the only full-scale wave and tidal power testing site in the world, the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney. North America could get its own, with plans underway in Nova Scotia for a facility in the Bay of Fundy.

The next step for the Saltire Prize — which gets its name from the X-shaped cross, known as a saltire, that’s on the flag of Scotland — is the publication of an official application in June 2009.


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