Scotland's nascent marine energy industry is a delayed-action victim of the great recession, the head of the Carbon Trust has claimed.

Michael Rea, chief operating officer of the publicly funded advisory body, told the Sunday Herald the near-simultaneous travails of Scotland's wave power champions Pelamis and Aquamarine might have been avoided if private investors had not withheld funding in the wake of the financial crash.

Rea described the fate of Pelamis, which failed to find a private buyer in a sale last week, and Aquamarine, now reduced to a skeleton staff after mass lay-offs, as "disappointing but not a complete shock".

"The investment market for early-stage development companies has been difficult since about 2007-08, and that's exacerbated in a capital-intensive sector like marine, when it's relatively big sums of money you need to get the technology to market."

Rea added: "I think the recession has had a big impact. It's always great to look back in hindsight, but yes, the recession has made people think very differently about this as a sector, and if it hadn't then things would have worked out very differently. But it did and we are where we are, and the ­question now is where do we go next? I think there is a case for the UK and Scottish Governments ­focusing available funding on ­innovations that would materially reduce the cost of the technology, and make it more attractive to the private sector to invest."

Rea said it would take "hundreds of millions of pounds" more investment before European producers could exploit their abundant marine energy resource.

"Over the years there has been significant support for these technologies, and they were making good progress. But the gap was around the private sector being willing to come in at some scale. That is what we hoped might happen, but it didn't come to fruition."

The Carbon Trust, in collaboration with the UK Government's Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, was last week putting the finishing touches to the Marine Farm Accelerator, a programme to bring together the remaining leading players in the wave and tidal industries, and offer incentives to overcome various specific technological challenges common to all those engaged in attempting to convert the power of the sea into electricity that can be transmitted to the grid.

With £3 million of Scottish Government cash already pledged, the Marine Farm Accelerator will aim to replicate the claimed success of an equivalent programme for offshore wind producers.

Pelamis, which went into ­administration in November, is currently in the process of being taken over for an undisclosed sum by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which will deploy its intellectual property in a new public body called Wave Energy Scotland.

With details to be announced in the new year, the new body aims to capture "the significant value that has accrued to Scotland in the ­development of wave technology to date, and the large global market that can be developed through further technological innovation."

Working in partnership with the Marine Farm Accelerator, it aims to "enable Scotland's indigenous technologies to reach commercial readiness in the most efficient and effective manner, and in a way that allows the public sector to exit in due course."