THE world's largest wave farm is to be built off the Western Isles in a major boost to Scotlsnd's aspirations to becoming a world leader in renewables.
Permission has been granted for a huge green energy device, operated by the power of the waves, to be built off Lewis.
The 4MW Siadar Wave Energy Project will be built 400m offshore and will provide enough energy to power about 1,800 homes.
The 30 million project was approved yesterday by Alex Salmond, the First Minister, who said it was another step towards Scotland leading the world in marine renewable energy.
Npower Renewables and Wavegen, which is behind the scheme, hopes it will be built by 2011.
This would be the first commercial-scale wave farm in Scotland, and would be larger than the Pelamis scheme off Portugal – the only other commercial-scale wave farm.
Mr Salmond said: "This is proof of Scotland's unique opportunities in renewables and evidence that we are already on the way to seizing every opportunity to maximise our natural resources and capability to generate clean, green energy."
And he said the renewables sector was a key strength of Scotland's economy and one that continues to grow through the current downturn. The scheme will create up to 70 jobs in the Western Isles.
Jason Ormiston, the chief executive of Scottish Renewables, the green energy trade body, said: "The marine technology of the future has today taken solid steps towards full commercial realisation.
"The planning system has, at times, been a major barrier to renewables development in Scotland, but this timely decision by government should send a confident message to marine developers that Scotland maintains a world leading role in marine energy."
However, Patrick Harvie, a Green MSP, said the small scale of the project was "a stark illustration of the failure of successive Scottish administrations to provide enough support for wave and tidal power."
He added: "It would take 340 schemes on this scale to replace just the single nuclear plant at Torness.
"If the First Minister is serious about ending Scotland's dependence on nuclear power he'll need to up his game on marine renewables."