Scotland’s Renewable Energy Prize

United Kingdom

(The Scottish Government puts its money where its green mouth is)

The Scottish Government has launched the Saltire Prize which aims “to unleash Scotland’s massive green potential”. The prize itself will be £10 million which will be awarded to the team that can demonstrate a commercially viable wave or tidal energy technology in Scottish waters. This technology must be capable of producing a minimum of 100 Gwh over a continuous period of 2 years using only the power of the sea. The entries will also be judged on cost, environmental sustainability and safety.

The Scottish Government are likening the prize to the Ansari X Prize which offered $10 million for the team achieving the first private spacecraft launch. This offer generated over $100 million of investment in research and development in the aviation sector. The hope is that the Saltire Prize will have a similar, if not better, effect.

Timetable for the prize

The prize was initially launched in December 2008. The Scottish Government has issued draft guidelines for the competition and is welcoming any comments. This public consultation will end on 24 April 2009. The responses will then be considered and a report on the consultation will be published by the summer, which will coincide with the publication of the finalised guidelines. The Grand Challenge will begin in January 2010 with the winner being announced in Spring 2015.

The draft guidelines highlight the Scottish Government’s stated commitment to environmentally friendly technology. Applicants will be required to complete an Environmental Impact Assessment and to calculate the carbon footprint of each device used. Furthermore, the draft guidelines require applicants to submit a business plan with their application. The prize is more than an academic exercise to see if applicants are capable of producing the required electrical output. Instead, it is aimed at finding a solution which will be capable of competing on a global open energy generation market.

Long-term aims

The prize will fulfil a commitment made by the SNP (which now forms the Scottish Government) in their 2007 manifesto to support emerging technologies that can contribute to sustainable power generation. It is the belief of the Scottish Government that 50% of Scotland’s electricity can be generated from renewable energy sources by 2020. It has set an interim target of 31% by 2011. Scotland has the potential resources to meet these targets. Indeed, it is estimated that there are 21.5 GW of commercial marine energy capacity that could be harnessed from the waters around Scotland. Hopefully the Saltire Prize will go some way towards unleashing this potential.

Further information

Full details of the prize and the draft guidelines are available here.