Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Saltire Prize

The Scottish Government made an announcement on the Saltire Prize yesterday evening. Although some opponents point out that this is twelfth time this has been announced, this announcement adds some new specifics - most notably the target of 100 GWh over two years from wave or tidal devices in Scottish waters.

The text is here:

The purpose of the Scottish Government’s £10 million Saltire Prize is to stimulate innovation across the world that will lead to delivery of the best wave and tidal energy technology.

The Saltire Prize will be awarded to the team that can demonstrate in Scottish waters a commercially viable wave or tidal energy technology that achieves a minimum electrical output of 100GWh over a continuous 2 year period using only the power of the sea and is judged to be the best overall technology after consideration of cost, environmental sustainability and safety.

Outline of the Challenge
The Prize will be open to any individual, team or organisation from across the world who believes they have wave or tidal technology capable of fulfilling the Challenge.

Competitors will be challenged to deploy a device (or array of devices) in Scottish waters which uses wave and tidal technologies to generate over 100GWh of electricity in any 2 consecutive year period. Having reached this output threshold, competitors will be judged on the cost, environmental sustainability and safety of their projects.

Next Steps
The Saltire Prize is now open for initial registration. To register interest in the Saltire Prize, the registration form can be found at

Registering interest in the Saltire Prize will ensure that you receive a copy of the Consultation paper on the Saltire Prize guidelines in January 2009. As part of our design process, the Scottish Government is keen to seek comments on the draft Saltire Prize guidelines in advance of publication. Following consideration of the comments received, the finalised guidelines will be published by 30 June 2009 and registration of interest will also ensure you receive a copy of the full application pack and guidelines at this time.

Speaking for Redfield, we'll be registering an interest, specifically to see the consultation paper in January. We have previously suggested a prize of this kind, although our initial reaction is that 100 GWh is maybe 5 times too high as a would imply around 25 MW of installed capacity running at a capacity factor of 25% for the full two years - we think 10 MW running for a year would do the trick.

Present power prices and multiple ROCs (which make a MWh of marine power worth maybe £200) mean that the winning project would have received £20 million in revenue. In the context of such a project, the value of the prize is relatively small, but experience with the X-Prize (and other similar prizes) was that a chunky cash prize triggered development work worth a multiple of the prize fund, and that's clearly what aimed for here.

For reasons too complex to go into here, Redfield feels rather proprietorial about the Saltire Prize, so we're very pleased to see this announcement firming up the prize terms. We'd be keen that the subjective bit about "consideration of cost, environmental sustainability and safety." should be downplayed, or addressed very early so there's no question when a project crosses the 100 GWh finish line.