Scotland Rules the Waves; BIGGEST BID IN HISTORY TO HARNESS AWESOME POWER OF THE SEA
Byline: Magnus Gardham
IT'S a green power gold rush ... and our nation is leading it.
Scotland confirmed its place at the forefront of global wave and tidal energy yesterday when officials unveiled TEN massive projects to generate power off our north coast.
The plans will make us the first country on the planet to produce wave and tidal energy on a large enough scale to make big business sense.
And if all the projects succeed, they could power 750,000 homes - and create more than 5000 jobs - in just 10 years.
First Minister Alex Salmond couldn't hide his glee as he said: "Scotland rules the waves.
"These waters have been described as the Saudi Arabia of marine power, and today marks a major milestone in the global journey towards a low-carbon future."
The pounds 5billion marine power revolution will centre on the Pentland Firth between John O'Groats and Orkney.
The Atlantic and North Sea meet in the eight-mile wide stretch of water, creating some of the strongest tides on the planet and producing giant waves.
The Crown Estate, which owns the seabed around the UK, gave the goahead yesterday for power companies to set up large-scale marine power projects in the firth and the waters around Orkney.
Officials at the normally staid public body didn't even try to hold back their excitement. Crown Estate chief executive Roger Bright said: "This is truly amazing work. No one has attempted to do anything on this scale in the world."
Scientists have been working on marine power projects for years - but on a small scale. No one has ever tried to do it commercially - until now.
Three of Britain's biggest energy firms, ScottishPower, Scottish and Southern Energy and E.ON, will bankoll most of the 10 projects.
The giants have joined forces with wave and tidal power pioneers who have been testing
And the seabed will look like a science fiction set as boffins bring in hundreds of weird and wonderful machines to create electricity from the waves and tides.
Edinburgh's Pelamis Wave Power will use their Sea Snake devices - huge floating booms harnessed to a "socket" on the seabed - to convert the force of the waves into electricity.
Pelamis boss Neels Kriek said yesterday's "momentous announcement" would go down in history around the world.
He added: "We look back to the birth of the steam engine in another age.
"But when our industry is fully developed, we will look back in the same way and trace the line back to today."
Another Edinburgh firm, Aquamarine Power, will fix banks of their Oyster generators to the seabed. The Oysters move back and forth with the waves and use pistons to generate power.
A third company, OpenHydro, will bolt huge turbines which look like jet engines to the seabed. And the SeaGen machine, which looks and acts like an onshore wind turbine, will generate power as the firth's 20-knot tides turn its rotor blades.
Yesterday's announcement was a triumph for Salmond, who has put his neck on the line over marine power. …