The world's oceans offer an incredible amount of clean renewable energy and the technology to harness energy commercially from wave and tides is still relatively new.
Wave and tidal power can be harnessed in many different ways.
Tidal barrages operate by blocking a river estuary and using the ebb and flow of the tides to turn turbines which in turn generate electricity. Research is also being conducted into generating electricity from massive tidal turbines (resembling underwater windmills) fixed to the sea bed.
Similarly, a whole host of devices are being invented to harness the power of the waves. The potential of tidal power is more limited but predictable while wave power offers a greater resource but is more erratic and dependent on wind and weather systems.
Scotland's geographical location means we are ideally placed to take advantage of wave and tidal power and become a world-leader in marine renewable technology.
The world's first commercial wave power generator, the Limpet, is based on the coast of Islay and uses waves to drive air through turbines generating energy. The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Stromness, Orkney is a unique offshore test centre for marine renewable devices and has successfully trialled a variety of devices including the Pelamis sea-snake and the Oyster.
It is estimated that within the coming years marine renewable technologies could power 750,000 homes in Scotland.
The importance of this technology to Scotland’s economy and future is underlined by the Saltire Prize which has been established by the Scottish Government. This international innovation prize is believed to be the largest of its kind in history and will award £10 million to the team which successfully demonstrates the first commercially viable wave or tidal device in Scottish waters.