The only company to receive a grant so far has been a tidal generation firm based in Bristol, one of whose backers, Rolls Royce, helps run the organisation which gives out

the grants.

The situation has infuriated the renewable energy industry in Scotland, which points out that most of the nation’s wave and tidal resources are around Scottish shores, and has been attacked as “pretty dodgy” by the Scottish Greens. The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) was established by the UK government in 2007 to boost clean sources of power. Based at Loughborough University, it is jointly run by government agencies and a group of major private companies including Rolls Royce, EDF Energy and E.ON.

Some £50m of ETI’s estimated £1 billion funds have been earmarked for marine renewable technologies. But despite receiving more than 103 expressions of interest, only one grant of £10m has so far been announced.

The grant was handed out to a firm called Tidal Generation Limited, which is run from Bristol and is 23.5% owned by Rolls Royce. The project also involves EDF Energy and E.ON, while Rolls Royce helped administer the grant applications to ETI.

“It would be fine for a consortium of companies to do what they want with their own money, but there’s taxpayers’ money being dished out here as well,” said Green MSP Patrick Harvie. “That makes it look pretty dodgy for funds to go to just one marine energy project, a scheme which three of these same companies have a hand in.” Harvie warned that marine energy could end up being another missed opportunity for Scotland. “Scottish companies are still leading the world here, but only just, and this money could be what takes wave and tidal energy to the next level if only it was used properly,” he said.

Scottish firms are also concerned ETI want to grab intellectual property rights on the technologies in which it invests. They point out Scotland lost the edge on wind power in the 1980s because it failed to hold on to these rights.

“It will suit very few marine energy technology developers to have their know-how bought out, right at the point when they are bringing devices to commercial application for the very first time,” said David Cameron, chief technical officer at the industry body, Scottish Renewables.

Scottish renewable companies have privately told the Sunday Herald how annoyed they are at the ETI’s performance. “Should the ETI be allowed to invest in companies in which its members have a stake?” asked one industry insider. “It should stop meddling in the market and urgently open a new funding call for the UK’s marine energy developers who are battling against the odds to build a new industry for

the UK.”

Some support came from the Scottish government. “We know that Scotland’s marine sector has concerns over access to ETI funding,” said a spokesman.

He pointed out that a recent report from the industry-led Marine Energy Group had urged ETI to do better. “We support the group’s recommendations and believe that ETI should work with the marine renewables sector to look at making funds more accessible.”

The ETI pointed out that the tidal power project it had funded was being tested at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, involving Scottish organisations. “We anticipate further project announcements in our marine programme shortly,” said an ETI spokesman.

“The ETI seeks to bring together the best organisations irrespective of their geographic location. The majority of our projects to date have included Scottish organisations.”

The spokesman argued that the intellectual property arrangements were flexible and tailored to each project. “Our key objective is to make sure the valuable intellectual property is both protected and, most importantly, exploited to its full potential,” he said.