Calling all marine renewable energy innovators! The Scottish Government announced a new prize at the beginning of April designed to encourage world scientists to push the boundaries for new clean, power generated from the sea. The Saltire Prize is worth a cool $20 million (£10 million) to the person or team who demonstrates innovation in marine renewable energy technology and is deployed in Scotland. The details of the prize are still being worked out, but it is time to get cracking if you have a great idea.
The Saltire Prize was inspired by other innovation prizes you may be familiar with like, the Ansari X Prize that led to the first private spacecraft launch, and also the Virgin Earth Challenge created by Richard Branson. Richard Branson’s prize is for scientists to create new ways to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. These challenges have created incredible innovation with a great return on investment. Did you know that the Ansari X Prize awarded $10 million, but led to $100 million worth of R&D? The Scottish Government hopes their prize will lead to similar if not better innovations and further advance renewable energy technology.
Scotland is well situated to benefit from the innovations as a result of the prize. The potential for renewable energy in Scotland is considerable. They have the potential to generate 25% of Europe’s wind energy, 25% of Europe’s tidal power and 10% of Europe’s wave power. When an area of your country gets called the “Saudi Arabia of tidal power,” that means you have some potential. Plans are already underway to develop the Pentland Firth, between Orkney and mainland Scotland, which alone could generate up to 10 GW.
While Scotland has significant potential, in terms of installed capacity, only a 0.27 MW of wave power is installed and no tidal power at all. In fact Korea is building the largest tidal power plant, set to come online by 2015. This prize is meant to kickstart Scotland’s marine renewable energy program and help meet their target of generating 50% of their electricity demand from renewable energy by 2020.