The Scottish Government has brought back the Saltire Fund, worth £10 million, in an effort to support the development of technology to harness tidal power.
The purpose of the fund is to explore how clean energy can be commercialised and its costs lowered. Originally conceived in 2008, the competition was ended in 2017 without anyone claiming the reward. When first introduced, the prize was for the development of both wave and tidal energy, but now the two are being recognised as separate entities.
After the decline of major wave technology firms, such as Aquamarine Power and Pelamis, and because the technology behind wave energy has effectively gone back to the laboratory, it was decided the fund should be relaunched as the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund.
The Government also plans to separately invest in the development of wave technology in the form of the Wave Energy Scotland (WES) fund, also worth £10m by 2020.
Hannah Smith, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “This new fund will help tidal energy developers innovate and lower costs – crucial when many are deploying devices which can already reliably produce electricity, but which are locked out of the energy market because they must compete with technologies like offshore wind, which has secured support to deploy at scale and deliver staggering cost reductions.
“It is important that any package of support recognises both the need to fund innovation in this promising sector and the commercial realities faced by developers.”
According to Paul Wheelhouse, Scotland’s Energy Minister, the UK Government’s decision to remove a ring-fenced subsidy for marine energy has “harmed” the investment climate. Wheelhouse said: “We believe that tidal energy can not only play an important role in our own future energy system, but it has substantial export potential.
“The industry has taken momentous steps forward in recent years, and we are proud to have supported that, but the path to commercialisation is taking longer, and proving more difficult, than initially expected.”