The sea around Orkney is among the areas being mapped out
The challenges and commercial opportunities of harnessing marine energy in the north of Scotland are to be set out in a new planning document.
The Scottish Government said it would be the first time the potential of the Pentland Firth and sea around Orkney is mapped out in such a way.
Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said Scotland would be at the forefront of green energy technology in 2009.
The government has commissioned the Marine Spatial Plan.
The Crown Estate is currently considering applications for leases for renewable energy developments in the firth.
Orkney, a power base for the Royal Navy in wartime, has a test centre for devices designed to generate energy from the actions of the sea.
Mr Lochhead said: "This will be another exciting year for renewables.
"In 2009 and beyond, Scotland is set to be at the forefront of the global development of clean, green energy technologies.
"As we open up the £10m Saltire Prize to applications later this year, there will be continued worldwide interest in our huge marine renewables potential.
"Renewables can drive long-term economic recovery so it is appropriate that the Pentland Firth, often referred to as the 'Jewel in the Crown' of our marine energy potential, is properly mapped to maximise the full, sustainable economic benefit."
He said the Marine Spatial Plan would set out the opportunities and act as a planning tool for developers, regulators and existing users of the marine environment.
Earlier this week, it was announced that a "strategic alliance" had been formed to push forward a plan to use tidal energy to power a computer data centre in the far north of Scotland.
Atlantis Resources Corporation, which has its headquarters in Singapore, is leading the project that could come on stream by 2012.
South of Scotland-based Internet Villages International (IVI) has been brought on board.
The plan is to build a data centre near Castle of Mey in Caithness.
It has been proposed to use tidal current turbines installed in the Pentland Firth - the stretch of water between the far north Scottish mainland and Orkney - to eventually provide all the power needed to run the centre's hardware.