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5 Unclaimed Environmental Prizes


2
Saltire Prize Challenge
German Chancellor Angela Merkel examines a model of an ocean wave power plant.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel examines a model of an ocean wave power plant.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The government of Scotland has proposed a juicy challenge to solve the world's energy problems: 10 million euros (about $15 million) to the team that develops the best ocean-power system.

Ocean power comes primarily in two forms: wave power and tidal power. Wave power generators float on top of the ocean, generating power as they're tossed about by waves. Tidal generators are under the sea, generating power from the force of tidal movements. They're kind of like wind turbines, but instead of wind they harness ocean currents.

Contestants can develop either one of these types of systems, and they have to test it in Scottish water. The goal is to come up with a viable, efficient and highly productive power system that relies on Scotland's hefty supply of water energy (25 percent of all potential ocean power in Europe is in Scottish waters) instead of on fossil fuels [source: Owen]. The winning design will be the one that supplies thousands of Scottish homes with all their electricity needs for two years, in the most efficient manner and requiring the least amount of maintenance.

The prize aims to further Scotland's ambitious goal of meeting half of its energy needs through renewable energy by 2020 [source: Owen].

Next up: Who can undo the damage?