Scotland relaunches £10m Saltire Energy Challenge Fund

The Scottish government has relaunched the $12.9m (£10m) Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund, as part of plans to support commercial tidal energy generation.

The fund will be awarded to companies that can install their projects by March 2020 and have a “positive social and economic impact on Scotland including collaboration across the Scottish supply chain.” Applications for the fund close on 6 December 2019.

The original fund was opened in 2008 and challenged companies to produce 100GWh of marine-generated power, but no company had claimed the reward when the competition closed in 2017. Originally the fund was for tidal and wave energy projects but is now only for tidal, as wave energy has regressed due to the collapse of firms such as Pelamis and Aquamarine Power.

Scotland’s energy minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP said: “Scotland continues to lead the world in developing and supporting marine energy technology. We believe that tidal energy can not only play an important role in our own future energy system, but it has substantial export potential.

“The investment climate has been harmed by the UK Government’s decision in 2016 to remove a ring-fenced subsidy for marine energy and by the parallel uncertainties caused by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

“The Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund therefore provides a timely and appropriate approach for the Scottish Government to support the current needs of the sector and to help ensure Scotland’s huge marine energy potential is realised, while my officials and I work with the sector on wider support for innovation and deployment of this exciting technology.”

Scottish Renewables senior policy manager Hannah Smith told the BBC: “This new fund will help tidal energy developers innovate and lower costs – crucial when many are deploying devices which can already reliably produce electricity, but which are locked out of the energy market because they must compete with technologies like offshore wind, which has secured support to deploy at scale and deliver staggering cost reductions.

“It is important that any package of support recognises both the need to fund innovation in this promising sector and the commercial realities faced by developers.”