£10 Million Sea Power Challenge

Scotland sets terms for Saltire Prize

2 min read

Scotland is finalizing the terms of a contest in wave and tidal energy that takes inspiration from the prize that prompted Lindbergh's transatlantic flight in 1927 and successors like the X Prizes and the Virgin Earth Challenge. The aim of the contest is to make ocean energy more than just a technical curiosity and, not so incidentally, give the country's inventors and entrepreneurs a boost in an area where they have some obvious advantages--suitable geography, friendly government policies, and a head start in engineering.

Dubbed the Saltire Prize, after the cross that is the central element in Scotland's flag, the prize of £10 million (about US $16 million) will be awarded in five years. Contestants will need the time to devise and demonstrate their technology because, by all accounts, Saltire is a very challenging challenge, so much so that only a Scottish company may be able to win it.

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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