Recently we’ve heard suggestions that the SNP’s flagship £10 million wave-power prize should be scrapped.
But given the history of The Saltire Prize it’s no surprise that it has run into problems, with no-one even likely to come close to meeting the qualifying criteria by the 2017 deadline.
From the start it looked like another of Alex Salmond’s pipe dreams and a PR stunt for the nationalists.
Rather than ear-marking £10 million of our money on a jackpot nobody is going to win, the Scottish Government would have been far better off focusing on an energy policy which is fit for the future.
We know that the SNP seem to have an obsession with onshore wind as a renewable technology. They are guilty of ignoring the potential benefits of other renewable energy methods, including those based offshore.
What we desperately need is a proper renewable strategy for Scotland, one which focuses on research and development in renewables and one which develops projects into a commercial concern.
That, however, would have not generated the headlines that Mr Salmond wanted.
Just last month we heard the sad news that Aquamarine Power – one of the four remaining competitors in the Saltire prize were going into administration.
This was gutting news for the workers who rely heavily on the industry for their livelihoods.
These job losses just demonstrate why the Scottish Government’s approach to the industry isn’t working. Offering multi-million pound prizes hasn’t delivered the goods.
Simply put, it is now time for the SNP to get rid of the white elephant and put in place a proper strategy.
A £10 million investment, properly targeted, could deliver real benefits in research and technological improvements. The Scottish Government should be working with the private sector to ensure we have the step-change in wave power development that we all want to see.
Nor should our ambition be restricted to just renewable technologies. Scotland has a workforce experienced in oil and gas extraction and we must use these skills to help exploit our undoubted shale gas potential.
This type of energy has the potential to reduce fuel poverty, create thousands of well-paid jobs throughout Scotland, and ensure that we are not reliant on expensive imports for our needs.
The Scottish Conservatives believe in a balance and mix for energy, including renewables, nuclear, oil and gas. This would ultimately create more opportunities, safeguard valuable jobs, and keep down costs to the consumer.
Instead of lavish, expensive and ill-thought-through publicity stunts, the SNP should be delivering a balanced energy policy, promoting a mix of technologies.
Murdo Fraser is an MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife and the party’s enterprise spokesman