By Ben Schiller
You could make a good case for Scotland being the center of the global marine energy industry. With perfect roiling seas, a well-funded testing and research hub, and consistent support from U.K. and Scottish governments, startups are experimenting with many intriguing wave and tidal devices--as the slide show of some of the most intriguing devices above testifies.
The bad news is that it's unlikely any of these designs will produce much power before 2015. Aside from testing, the companies still have to work on bread-and-butter issues like getting power to land, rigging the devices into cost-effective "arrays," developing an installation and maintenance infrastructure, and negotiating the proper insurance.
But the good news is that it's likely to happen some day--which is an improvement on a few years ago, when the industry looked, well, dead in the water. Startups point in particular to backing from some of Europe's most important engineering and energy companies--names like Siemens, ABB, and Alstom, which have all made, or upped, investments recently.
An August report (PDF) said marine could produce 75 terrawatt hours per year by 2050, or about 10% of overall U.K. demand. Marine energy may still be a bit zany and a bit niche for some tastes. But Scotland, especially, is showing it has a future.
Copyright 2012 by Fast Company. Reprinted with permission.