Nicola Sturgeon urges UK to tackle 'uncertainty' over marine energy
Nicola Sturgeon has called on the UK Government to end uncertainty around subsidies for marine energy projects.
It comes as progress continues on the world's first large-scale tidal energy farm in the Pentland Firth.
The First Minister is to visit the MeyGen project, owned by Atlantis Resources, to see the first turbines in the planned tidal stream array on Monday.
It has received £23 million in Scottish Government funding and will "invigorate" the industry with new jobs, the First Minister said.
Last month, another Scottish energy become the first in the world to deliver electricity to the national grid from a tidal array system.
Nova Innovation said its Shetland Isles project represented major progress in using tidal energy as a long-term source of predictable renewable power.
Continuing growth in the industry will create jobs for people moving from the oil and gas sector, the Scottish Government said.
Ahead of her visit to Nigg Energy Park in Ross-shire, the First Minister called on the UK Government to support the industry.
She said: "I am incredibly proud of Scotland's role in leading the way in tackling climate change and investment in marine renewables is a hugely important part of this.
"MeyGen is set to invigorate the marine renewables industry in Scotland and provide vital jobs for a skilled workforce, retaining valuable offshore expertise here in Scotland that would otherwise be lost overseas.
"Highly skilled operation and maintenance jobs will also need to be carried out locally, providing strong local employment opportunity for rural areas.
"There is no doubt that the eyes of the world are on this project which is why the Scottish Government's investment is so crucially important.
"But it is absolutely vital that the UK Government honours its earlier commitment to provide a ring-fenced allocation for marine energy in its renewables support scheme.
"They must tackle the current uncertainty that exists before they cause irreparable damage to the long term prospects for the sector."
Tim Cornelius, chief executive of Atlantis Resources, said: "Today marks a historic milestone not just for Atlantis and our project partners, but for the entire global tidal power industry.
"It gives me enormous pride to have reached this juncture after 10 years of tireless work, preparation and planning by everyone associated with this project. This is the day the tidal power industry announced itself as the most exciting new asset class of renewable, sustainable generation in the UK's future energy mix.
"This is an industry that is creating jobs and Scotland is the undisputed world leader of this high growth sector."