Turning the tide?

March 7, 2019

Jean Morrison – chairwoman, AREG

Last month, the Scottish Government revived a £10million prize fund to boost commercial prospects for tidal energy in Scotland.

As many of you know, this is not the first appeal of its kind. In 2008, the Saltire Prize – aimed at both wave and tidal technologies – was created but no one claimed the £10m funding before the deadline passed in June 2017.

Recent advances in tidal technologies have sparked fresh investor interest in the sector. The prize has now been reshaped to focus solely on tidal technologies under the banner of the ‘Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund’.

The industry has made huge strides in the past few years and government backing will hopefully move this progress one step further towards full commercialisation.

Projects which are successful in gaining funding must be deployed in Scottish waters no later than March 2020 and there is a sense of real optimism that applications will be successful this time. Many companies are already working to develop tidal energy projects in Scotland.

SIMEC Atlantis, the operator of the world’s largest tidal stream power project, MeyGen, is at the forefront of the development of the marine energy industry in Europe and recently announced that the tidal array had exported more than 12 gigawatts (GW) of energy to the Scottish grid – a new record. Nova Innovation is also working on a €20m project to expand its Bluemull Sound array in Shetland to six turbines.

Although more still needs to be done to progress development in the wave industry, the Scottish government has also proposed to invest a further £10m in Wave Energy Scotland (WES) by 2020.

Blue Energy, which embraces wave, tidal and floating wind power, is seen as key to realise Europe’s energy transition goals with the potential to meet 10% of the EU’s power demand by 2050.

As a partner of the Europe Leading Blue Energy (ELBE) project, our aim is to forge business collaboration and innovation and identify new opportunities in global markets for floating offshore windfarms, wave and tidal for the European energy supply chain.

The partners – AREG, Flanders’ Maritime Cluster (Belgium), Offshoreväst (Sweden), Offshoreenergy.dk (Denmark) and the Basque Energy Cluster in Spain – represent 532 organisations, 17 Blue Energy test and demonstration centres, 24 wave energy developers, seven tidal developers and seven floating offshore wind developers.

We recently visited Belgium to hear more details about getting to market in Blue Energy where topics included growth markets around the world, technical standards, small scale applications and integration in multi-use platforms.

Our hope is that Scotland and Europe will become world technological and industrial leaders in Blue Energy. It is crucial these sectors are supported.

Get in touch

AREG is the original energy transition organisation, working on behalf of members to empower the energy supply chain and champion its expertise. Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to find out more about membership.

AREG has played an important role in the growth of Scotland’s renewable energy sector, engaging the supply chain and developing the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre. However, we are only at the very beginning of the transition that AREG was established to both lead and support so there are still opportunities for companies to get into the constantly evolving renewables supply chain. We look forward to continuing our work together as renewables builds on its place as Scotland’s main source of power, and as we seek to deliver real change in the crucial areas of heat and transport.

Scottish Renewables

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce has worked closely with AREG since its formation. The recent progress in the developments of offshore wind projects by Equinor and Vattenfall are as a result of the work of the group over many years. The north-east is known as the oil and gas capital of Europe. At the Chamber, we believe the region must evolve its position to being recognised as the energy capital. Whilst hydrocarbons will continue to be essential in driving our economy for years to come, the generation of renewable resources will play an increasingly important role in providing cost-effective power, innovative development and economic growth.

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce

The enthusiasm and dedication of the early group that would become AREG was fundamental in us choosing to launch All-Energy in Aberdeen. The first tiny show was held in 2001, and AREG’s Chairman at the time, Jeremy Cresswell, played such an active role that I often describe him in terms such as All-Energy’s ‘midwife’. All-Energy is now the UK’s largest renewable and low carbon energy exhibition and conference in terms of number of attendees, space booked, and number of exhibiting companies. As AREG became firmly established, their presence and support for the event grew spectacularly over the years. We thank them most sincerely for their invaluable input.


Vattenfall has forged a strong working relationship with AREG through the development of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre. AREG has worked tirelessly on behalf of the North East and it can take enormous credit for the growth of sustainable energy in the region and the path it has cleared for the region to capture further investment.


Aberdeen City and Shire is emerging as a key location for renewables by successfully transferring its world-class oil and gas expertise into the sector and AREG has done much to advance this through a broad range of initiatives. It has acted as a catalyst in driving further investment in the local economy by engaging with companies, Government, public bodies and existing projects and we have been pleased to support their efforts. Scottish Enterprise will continue to engage with AREG as we increase Scotland’s use of renewable energy.

Scottish Enterprise