The £10 million global competition to promote wave power launched 10 years ago by the Scot-Govt is – like two of the possible winning companies – now ‘dead in the water’.
The current minority SNP government has been strongly rowing away from the Salter Prize – set up by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond – ever since two of the brightest hopes, Pelamis and Aquamarine Power collapsed.
The financial strain of supporting wave-power machines that could stand up to the harsh marine environment off Scotland proved too much.
Despite the failure of the technology to cope, the Scot-Govt launched a new quango – which then employed many of wave power energy experts from Pelamis and Aquamarine.
And last year, Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse hired two wave power consultancy firms to come up with a rescue plan for the Salter Prize. Despite pledging that this report would be published last autumn, nothing has emerged from Wheelhouse’s department.
However, a Scot-Govt spokesman said a ‘junior prize is now being considered as part of the review of the main Saltire Prize”.
Liam McArthur, a Liberal MSP whose Orkney constituency is coincidentally home to the European Marine Energy Centre, said: “I recognise the initial value of this initiative as a statement of intent and still firmly believe that Scotland can and must lead the way when it comes to marine renewables.
“However, everyone in the industry has known for some time that the Salter Prize is dead in the water.
“After years of ducking and diving, SNP ministers must now come clean.
“They need to explain how they plan to invest the funding in ways that will actually make a difference in enabling Scotland to realise its potential in this area.”
Ironically, the greatest technical – and emerging financial triumph – in marine energy is sea-bed tidal turbines where Atlantis Resources is currently building the massive MeyGen array off the Caithness coast.
Sub-surface, sea-bed tidal turbines are not exposed to the same kind of harsh sea-surface conditions that sank Pelamis and Aquamarine.
5 Feb 2018