April 29, 2008 The Scottish Government has offered the world’s biggest ever cash prize for innovation in the field of renewable marine-based energy. It is hoped that the £10 million (US$20 million) award will not only contribute to the global energy problem, but will help bolster Scotland’s own clean energy sector which already accounts for 16% of the nation’s generated electricity.
Using a model that's been well proven by organizations like the X Prize Foundation, the Saltire Prize is designed to provide incentive for scientists to conduct research into the field of marine renewable energy. Unlike the current Google Lunar X PRIZE , which has has very clear cut rules of how to win the cash, the Saltire Prize will operate within very broad parameters. The idea is for the prize to achieve a profile that will engender the kind of ROI that makes innovation prizes successful (for example, the Ansari X Prize of $10 million led to $200 million in R&D). The key elements of the Saltire Prize are that it captures imaginations and inspires a revolution in green energy; provides a global challenge open to teams from across the world; is relevant to Scotland, and able to be demonstrated in Scotland; capitalizes on Scotland's current renewable energy expertise; and that the concept is achievable in the short-medium term, ideally within a 2-5 year timeframe.
Scotland has become a world-leader in alternative energy and the potential wave and tidal capacity in the waters around Scotland is estimated at 21.5 GW – almost ten times Scotland's current installed nuclear capacity, and two times current total installed electricity generating capacity. Studies have shown that tidal generation in the Pentland Firth could provide almost 10% of total UK electricity demand. The Scottish Government believes that renewables can meet at least 50 per cent of Scotland's demand for electricity by 2020, with an interim target of 31 per cent by 2011.The Saltire Prize will help not only to achieve these targets, but propel the potential for Scotland to advance its own economy and energy independence while making a substantial contribution to the world's most pressing climate change issues. However, the Saltire Prize may not just be limited to climate change. The Scottish Government said that the first challenge will focus on addressing climate change and once this prize has been won, a second challenge will be set.
The announcement was made earlier this month as part of Scotland Week at the world headquarters of the National Geographic Society in Washington by First Minister Alex Salmond.
For further reading see the Scottish Government site.