In order to harness Scotland’s immense marine energy resources and achieve a renewable energy target of 50% of electricity generated through renewable sources by 2020, the country has put its money where its mouth is. The Saltire Prize is a Â£10 million prize challenge for advances in wave and tidal energy in Scottish waters, and is expected to pave the way for the development of a commercially viable marine renewable energy sector in the country.
In order to qualify for the challenge, entries will need to produce a minimum electrical output of 100GWh over a continuous 2 year period, using only the power of the sea. The best overall technology that is best commercially deployable (after the consideration of environmental sustainability, cost, and safety) will win the prize.
The Saltire Prize Grand Challenge will focus on the conversion of power from waves and tidal streams into electrical output from single or mixed arrays (or individual units) using tidal or wave technology. Some forms of ocean-based energy systems are excluded from the competition, such as marine biomass, offshore wind, ocean thermal, osmotic power, and tidal barrage.
“Achievement of these targets will require the development of radical and innovative solutions. No Member State can tackle today’s energy and climate change targets on its own and the Saltire Prize is a global call to action. This prize provides an important platform to seek out the important technological breakthroughs that can help unlock the enormous potential of marine renewable energy.” – Andris Piebalgs, EU Energy Commissioner
Estimates of potential wave energy for Scotland are 21.5 GW of commercial capacity, and the country has fully 25% of Europe’s offshore wind and tidal power potential. In addition to the economic benefits from its clean energy possibilities, the Scottish government has a number of other reasons for putting forth the challenge and prize money:
- To reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 80% by 2050
- To inspire the innovation necessary to hit the country’s target of 50% of its electricity generated by renewables by 2020
- To accelerate technological developments in the global marine renewable sector
- To further promote science and technology in Scotland
- To engage the Scottish public with science and engineering achievements
The government has incorporated some features into the challenge structure in order to create an optimum environment for reaching the goal, including simplicity of design, open competition (entries from around the world), an easily communicated message, an impartial judging process, an improvement process for cost, reliability and sustainability, and an educational package.
The Saltire Prize challenge will run from the summer of 2009 until December 2014, but if no entry achieves the minimum output set by guidelines, the challenge will be extended for another two years.