Although hydrokinetic power -- energy generated from the tides, currents and waves -- has a great deal of potential as a primary source of power generation around much of the world, it doesn't have the visibility of technologies such as solar and wind power. This is due, in large part, to the relative scarcity of real-world implementations of marine energy. Many of the existing examples are test-beds, small-scale efforts to demonstrate that the concept is viable. But the demonstration efforts have been well-received, and Portugal will be opening the first commercial wave farm next year, and South Korea will be opening a tidal power project in 2009.
But Scotland is also near the forefront of adoption of this potentially transformative technology. Last year, the first wave farm connected to the grid opened off Orkney, a demonstration system generating about 750kw. Ultimately, Scotland could get 10% of its energy production from ocean power -- and intends to do so, according to Renewable Energy Access.
Renewable Energy Access cites comments from the Scottish Executive office and a 2004 report from the official Marine Energy Group (PDF). The report claims that Scotland could generate about a gigawatt of power from marine sources, roughly 10% of its overall capacity; this would be enough to replace one full-size coal power plant.
This would count towards the Scottish Executive's goal of 18% renewable energy by 2010, and 40% by 2020.
Scotland is among the most aggressive European regions when it comes to shifting to renewable power. We discussed Scotland's renewable potential back in May, noting the rapid adoption of wind power, and even some consideration of careful application of solar power. The main issue that Scotland faces in its drive to renewable energy is that, in many respects, electricity is the easy part: only 20% of Scotland's power use is electric; heating and transportation consume 80% of the power in Scotland. Moving towards renewable power in those arenas requires greater structural change, from moving towards electric vehicles as they become more widely available to pushing hard for the adoption of high efficiency standards for building insulation.
Coming from the Isle of Lewis originally, I think one of the main problems is finding an alternative vehicle fuel. Certainly the out lying areas of scotland pay a premium for centrally refined fuel and should be looking at means of producing biodiesel or other sustainably produced fuels.
One kind of home (or industrial) building design which should be considered is the Monolithic Dome. Its energy savings range from 50-75%, owing in part to the minimal surface-area-to-volume shape, and the energy efficient polyurethane foam insulation used in its construction.
Links to that, plus alternative technologies like solar and wind power, and bio-diesel may be found at: A Guide to Green Home Construction, Alternative Energy & Conservation links on the Net