Page last updated at 16:39 GMT, Wednesday, 2 April 2008 17:39 UK

10m marine energy prize unveiled

The sea
The government believes wave power could boost the economy

The world's largest prize for marine renewable energy innovation has been announced by the Scottish Government.

The 10m Saltire Prize aims to push the boundaries of research in the global fight against climate change.

Scottish first minister Alex Salmond unveiled details of the scheme while on a visit to the US.

To be eligible for the prize, innovations must be commercially viable and will be demonstrated in Scotland, the government said.

Speaking at the National Geographic Society's world headquarters in Washington, Mr Salmond said the prize would also deliver clear economic benefits at home.

This global initiative is hugely exciting. It puts Scotland at the very heart of the battle against climate change
Alex Salmond
Scottish first minister

"Scotland won the natural lottery with oil and gas in the 1970s and has won it again in its potential for planet-saving renewable energy," he said.

"Our Saltire Prize is a call to action to scientists around the world to help bring the power of the seas around Scotland and indeed the United States, online that much sooner."

It is thought the seas around Scotland could generate a quarter of Europe's tidal power and 10% of the continent's wave energy.

The Scottish Government wants half of its electricity from renewable energy by 2020, with a target of 31% by 2011.

'Real' solutions

Mr Salmond added: "This global initiative is hugely exciting. It puts Scotland at the very heart of the battle against climate change and builds on our nation's substantial reputation for innovation in the areas of science that matter."

The National Geographic Society's head of global missions, Terry Garcia, was announced as one of the first members of the international prize committee, along with Scotland's chief scientific adviser, Prof Anne Glover.

"The world's oceans are an incredibly valuable global resource in a myriad of ways, and we applaud the Scottish Government's efforts to generate real energy solutions involving marine renewables," said Mr Garcia.

Mr Salmond was criticised by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Nicol Stephen, who said: "Marine renewable technology needs sustained investment, not recycled gimmicks."

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