Jul 24 2014

Scotland at the Forefront of Ocean Energy

Published by under Student blog entries

Renewable energy is on the rise. We are not only seeing dramatic increases in the solar and wind energy fields as shown by the media primarily, but also in wave and tidal energy. Although these technologies are still in their infancy, they are out there and have begun to become competitive. Major steps have been taken by Scotland to realize this new field with their creation of EMEC, the European Marine Energy Centre, a site that allows developers to collect data and test their devices. EMEC has even helped form an “Ocean Energy Day” which was celebrated for the first time in Orkney, Scotland on June 3, 2014, as reported by the EMEC website.


First energy day with co-founders EMEC and Ocean Energy Europe


Developing these technologies is of utmost importance and if successful could go a very long way in supplying the increasing global energy demand. Douglas Fraser of the BBC states, “It’s a great opportunity. There’s enough wave power to provide five times the world’s electricity demands, but no-one’s doing it at a commercial scale yet.” Scotland’s most recent foray into collecting this energy at a commercial scale has taken the form of a competition called the Saltire Prize Challenge which would reward £10 million (approximately $17 million at the time of this writing) to a developer that can generate a minimum of 100 gigawatt-hours in a two year period. Brian Clark Howard of National Geographic states:

That would be just a tiny fraction of Scotland’s current energy consumption, about 40,000 gigawatt-hours per year. But it would be a huge achievement for ocean energy and an important breakthrough for Scotland, which has set an ambitious target of reaching 100 percent renewable electricity generation by 2020.

Howard states that four UK based companies are in the challenge and each have their own ocean power device as of 2012. Two of these devices are set to collect tide energy and two are collecting the energy from waves. A fifth competitor was introduced in March 2013 according to the Saltire website and will also be using tide energy to attempt to generate the minimum energy requirement.

It is extremely exciting to see these companies take the plunge in a fairly unexplored field. The innovation and competition that will result from the development of these technologies will likely be a great kickstart into new technologies. It is important that we realize the enormous potential of ocean energy as it is 800 times denser than winds, and more predictable, as noted by Howard. As a result of the success of one of these five companies, we will assuredly see much future interest into harnessing the power of the ocean, a clean and renewable source.


Works Cited:

EMEC Orkney. Web. 24 July 2014. <http://www.emec.org.uk/>.

Fraser, Douglas. “Commercial Wave Power Hope in Scotland ‘requires Patience'” BBC. 25 Nov. 2013. Web. 24 July 2014.

Howard, Brian C. “Ocean Energy Teams Compete for $16 Million Scotland Prize.” National Geographic. 7 Sept. 2012. Web. 24 July 2014.

Saltire Prize. Web. <http://www.saltireprize.com/>.

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