Last November, the Scottish government committed £18 million (about $29 million) to develop the country’s first commercial wave and tidal power plants. The money is part of a larger £35 million fund created to support the marine and tidal industry over the course of three years.
But even with significant increases in hydro, wave, marine and wind energy, Scotland’s challenge will be to revamp basic infrastructure to accomodate a dramatically different electricity generation system if it is to succeed in reaching its goal. Unlike massive thermal power plants, renewable energy generation is generally smaller and distributed and variable. New transmission lines need to be built, new energy management and load reduction systems need to be in place, and energy storage needs to be secured for times when renewable generation slows.
If Scotland succeeds, the country will be a dramatic example of success for the the rest of the world. A relatively small country with less than optimal domestic resources, Scotland will need maximize its use of ingenuity, government support and scientific discovery to switch to renewables. But one thing is certain, if Scotland can do it, then large industrial countries can do it too. It’s all a matter of time and commitment.