Scotland could see 'Silicon Valley effect' from green energy

Tidal power There are a number of wave and tidal devices in Scottish waters

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First Minister Alex Salmond has claimed that green energy will transform Scotland in the way technology firms in Silicon Valley transformed California.

He made the statement in an address to members of the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco.

Mr Salmond is on the west coast of America on a four-day trade mission.

Scotland has 10% of Europe's wave power resources and a quarter of its offshore, wind and tidal resources.

The first minister highlighted Scotland's developing marine energy sector and said the country would be a centre of excellence, bringing potentially huge economic and environmental gains.

The politician's trip has already included attending the world premiere of the new Pixar movie Brave, an animated film set in a mythical Scotland.

Previous speakers to the Commonwealth Club of California have included civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King and former US presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

Mr Salmond told the gathering: "Scotland is a nation which has made a big contribution to the world in the past and has a huge amount to offer the world in the future. We are ambitious for the future, both for ourselves and what we can contribute to the rest of the world.

"I believe that developing the concentration of expertise, commitment and investment in marine energy that Scotland already possesses will make us the Silicon Valley of marine energy.

"That patch of Northern California that became known as Silicon Valley began by creating a community of technical scholars. Big business followed the skills and big rewards soon followed - and the same is happening in Scotland in our marine energy sector."

Mr Salmond went on to explain that 12 major universities in Scotland have joined together to form the energy technology partnership, which earlier this year agreed a "unique collaboration" with Abu Dhabi's Masdar Energy Institute.

Commercial scale

He said: "Glasgow is the premier centre in Europe for offshore wind research, with Strathclyde University's £90m technology and innovation centre a hub for researchers and industry to work together on pioneering technology.

"There are more different types of wave and tidal devices in the waters around Scotland than in the rest of the world combined and the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters leasing area is the world's largest commercial scale marine energy site.

"Scotland is becoming the Silicon Valley of marine energy worldwide.

"Having been at the heart of the marine engineering revolution of the 19th century, we are now placing ourselves at the heart of the marine engineering revolution of the 21st century.

"As hi-tech industries concentrated in Silicon Valley and transformed the economic landscape of Northern California, so marine energy will do for Scotland."

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