The Scottish Executive intends to support a new project in wave power technology that will harness energy from the seas around Scotland, it was confirmed last week. Speaking following a visit to the Pelamis wave energy project at Peniche in Portugal - set up by Edinburgh-based Ocean Power Delivery (OPD) - Enterprise Minister Nicol Stephen said he was determined to see similar devices operating in Scottish waters by summer 2007.

He added: "I am committed to supporting Scotland's huge wave and tidal energy resource. Scotland has a real opportunity to be a world leader in this field. "OPD has shown, through the success of its Pelamis project. what is possible. I have been impressed by OPD's professionalism and commitment to developing the full potential of wave energy.

"I am determined to get additional support to wave and tidal generators and to increase Scotland's reputation as the place to develop marine renewables. "I am currently in the process of finalising changes to our green credits system - the Renewables Obligation (ROS). These changes are designed to point the way forward for marine energy.

"Earlier this year I announced £8 million funding for marine energy projects and we intend to invest a share of this to secure a Pelamis project in Orkney at the European Marine Energy Centre. I want to see wave power devices operating in Scottish waters by next summer.

"The Pelamis devices now being prepared for installation in Portugal are massive machines - over 120 metres long and weighing over 300 tonnes. They are the first commercial wave machines in the world - built using entirely Scottish technology.

"We have got to give strong support to this success. The opportunity now exists to create a multi-million pound industry based in Scotland, employing thousands of highly skilled people."

OPD was set up in January 1998 to develop the Pelamis Wave Energy Converter concept. In March 2002, the company secured £6 million funding from an international consortium of venture capital companies, led by Norsk Hydro, to produce the largest investment of its kind in a wave power company and added to this, £1.5 million from the Carbon Trust. The first full-scale pre-production Pelamis prototype (capacity of 750 kW) has undergone various stages of a testing programme at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney and will return next month for further testing. In 2005, OPD secured the first order for Pelamis wave energy converters with a Portuguese consortium, led by Enersis, to build the initial phase of the world's first commercial wave farm. The initial phase will consist of three Pelamis machines located off the North coast of Portugal.

This 8 million euro project will have an installed capacity of 2.25MW, and is expected to meet the average electricity demand of more than 1,500 households. The three machines are currently undergoing final assembly prior to installation later this year. The Pelamis is a semi-submerged structure composed of cylindrical sections linked by hinged joints.

The wave-induced motion of these joints is resisted by hydraulic rams. These pump oil through hydraulic motors which drive generators to produce electricity. Power from all the joints is fed down a single umbilical cable to a junction on the sea bed. Several devices can be connected together and linked to shore through a single seabed cable. Scotland has a target of 18 per cent of its electricity generated by renewables by 2010 and 40 per cent by 2020.