Can Scotland become the Saudi Arabia of marine energy? That’s the Scottish government’s goal, and they’re putting £18 million ($28.32 million) on the line to achieve it. The Marine Renewables Commercialization Fund (MRCF) will pay for commercial scale wave and tidal power arrays, and has begun accepting bids for new projects. The government will announce funding awards by the end of 2012.

Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond made the announcement at the All-Energy Conference in Aberdeen, revealing that the government had already awarded the first half-million pounds from its £70m National Renewables Infrastructure Fund toward the development of a renewable energy hub at a port near Glasgow.

“Europe’s greatest wind, wave and tidal resources are heavily concentrated in the waters around these islands and Scotland is at the forefront of developing offshore and low carbon energy generation technologies,” Salmond stated at the conference.

“The new fund brings together the marine renewables expertise of the Carbon Trust, the Scottish government and our enterprise agencies. It will help move the wave and tidal sector from prototype devices to commercially viable arrays, producing increasing amounts of electricity solely from the power of the seas and deliver a lasting legacy for future generations.”

According to the Scottish government, the seas around this island nation have the potential to produce up to 25% of Europe’s tidal power, and 10% of its wave power. Scotland could produce 12 gigawatts of energy from marine renewable and offshore wind sources by 2020. Scotland aims to meet 100% of its own electricity demand with renewable sources by the same year.

Scotland’s renewable energy production has risen sharply in recent years. As of the end of 2011, the nation had 4,796 megawatts of installed renewables electricity capacity, a 9.5% increase since the end of 2010. Scotland produced almost 40% of the United Kingdom’s renewables output in 2011.

Photo Credit: Dave Souza/Wikimedia Commons