Scotland, and in particular the Highlands and Islands, is leading the world in the development of marine energy devices - according to the Chairman of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
Professor Lorne Crerar is addressing energy industry and public sector professionals at the annual Scottish Renewables Marine Energy Conference at Eden Court, Inverness today (Tuesday 18 September).
The two-day conference has attracted 250 delegates and 40 exhibitors from the marine renewables industry.
Professor Crerar said: "Scotland - and the Highlands and Islands in particular - are truly leading the world in marine energy development and deployment.
"The coastlines around Shetland, Orkney, the Outer Hebrides and Argyll have some of the best natural resources in the world and they are all playing host to marine developers. The recent launch of Scotland's first marine energy park in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters recognises the huge potential in the north of Scotland."
Already, more than 25 marine energy leases have been awarded in Scotland and the coming years will see leading companies deploying the first wave and tidal arrays as the industry moves towards commercialisation of new technologies. The planned electricity output of the Scottish leases is over 1.6GW - more than Peterhead power station.
More wave and tidal energy devices are currently deployed at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney than at any other single site in the world. Scotland also has more marine energy projects under way or in planning than any other country.
Scotland is home to some of the most advanced wave and tidal technology developers in the world, including Pelamis Wave Power, Aquamarine Power, Voith Hydro Wavegen, AWS Ocean Energy and Scotrenewables.
In addition to the launch of the country's first marine energy park, other recent Scottish developments include:
Professor Crerar added: "When you reflect on what is being achieved by our small country in terms of world-leading, commercial-scale wave and tidal energy developments and cutting-edge research and skills programmes, you realise that we have progressed from being on the cusp of a marine energy revolution, to actually living it.
"Now we need to ensure that we secure lasting benefits for Scotland's economy and communities - a legacy that will provide a sustainable energy source for our future generations."
Key players from the world of marine energy attending the conference include Aquatera Ltd, Argyll and Bute Renewable Alliance (ABRA), Caithness Renewables Ltd, Kongsberg Maritime Ltd and Marine Scotland.
Delegates are able to meet developers and manufacturers who make up the supply chain in Scotland and further afield, and to take part in workshops looking at how to maximise collaboration and support growth of the marine energy sector. Practical actions for the supply chain will be outlined, including opportunities to expand into the renewables sector and attract investors.
The two days will also reflect the current challenges facing those working in marine renewables including grid, finance, infrastructure and skills.
Neil Kermode, Managing Director at EMEC will also speak at the conference today, he said: "Orkney has taken a global lead in the evolution of wave and tidal energy technologies for more than a decade. At EMEC, we are already witnessing a huge increase in developer activity - all 14 test berths are committed and large utilities and industrial companies are progressing towards commercial scale projects.
"This is a fast changing and globally important sector which Scotland is currently leading. The challenge for all of us is to maintain that lead and convert it into commercial opportunities which will drive economic growth."
Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, said: "Inverness is the perfect location for those in the marine renewables sector to come together and discuss how we lay the foundations for the future of this technology because the Highlands and Islands are where a lot of the expertise in this industry and connected industries lie.
"The conference will also be an opportunity to celebrate the milestones this industry has achieved while debating many of the challenges we must overcome to maintain our advantage and realise our ambitions."