for National Geographic News
The race is officially on for a U.S. $15-million-dollar (10-million-Euro) prize for harnessing the power of the oceans.
The winning marine renewable-energy innovation would provide a serious energy alternative to burning fossil fuels, which contribute to global warming.
Details of the Saltire Prize Challenge were announced Tuesday in Edinburgh by Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond.
The award will go to the team that "successfully demonstrates—in Scottish waters—the best commercially viable wave or tidal technology capable of providing electricity to thousands of homes."
The winning team must supply this electricity using only the power of the sea for a continuous two-year period.
(Related: "$20-Million Prize for Renewable Ocean Energy Announced" [April 2, 2008].)
"It is Scotland's energy challenge to the world—a challenge to the brightest and best minds worldwide to unleash their talents and push the frontiers of innovation in green marine energy," Salmond said.
"The Saltire Prize has the potential to unlock Scotland's vast marine energy wealth, putting our nation at the very forefront of the battle against climate change."
The prize, named after the cross of St. Andrew on the Scottish national flag, was inspired by other innovation competitions such as the U.S. $10-million-dollar Ansari X Prize.
That contest led to the first private spacecraft launch in 2004.
"Saudi Arabia of Marine Energy"
Scotland boasts a quarter of Europe's tidal power potential, according to Salmond.
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