$20-Million Prize for Renewable Ocean Energy Announced

Christine Dell'Amore in Washington, D.C.
National Geographic News
April 2, 2008

Scotland will offer the world's largest prize to date for spurring advances in marine renewable energy, the country's head of state announced today. (Watch video.)

The Saltire Prize, of 20 million U.S. dollars, will go to innovators from any nation who design environmentally friendly ocean technology, such as better ways to harness tidal and wind power.

"This will ensure Scotland will be at the forefront of the battle against climate change and the move toward a new energy era," Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond told an audience at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C.

(The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)

The competitors will demonstrate their inventions in Scotland.

Prize "Golden Age"

A new "golden age" in challenge prizes has inspired some of the most significant innovations in modern history, Salmond said.

For instance, the Ansari X-Prize for breakthroughs in human spaceflight saw a 200-U.S-million-dollar return in research and development on a 10-million-U.S.-dollar prize fund.

Salmond wanted to concentrate Scotland's marine-energy prize on where it might do the most good, he told National Geographic News.

"[We made a] decision to target an aspect of renewables that on one hand has amazing potential but is still in its infancy," he said.

"Looking at this array of prizes, renewables require an impetus, and this will electrify the renewables community and spur them on to greater effort."

The country of five million also has natural resources "unrivaled" across Europe, such as 25 percent of the continent's offshore wind resources and 10 percent of its wave potential, Salmond said.

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