Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond upped the ante for renewable energy today in a lecture to the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. by announcing a $20 million prize for renewable energy that draws from the ocean.

The goal of the prize, obviously, is to position Scotland at the forefront of renewable energy development. The prize has a clause that the winner must demonstrate his or her technology on-site in order to receive up to $20 Million.

In reflecting on his choice to not broaden the reach of the program to other dimensions of renewable energy, Salmond said that he believed a narrow search in an area where Scotland would become the recognized leader would be the most efficient way to move forward, and allow the small nation to harness her “unrivaled” natural resources.

It’s worth noting that Scotland is already a progressive in the alternative energy realm– they’ve committed to being on 30 percent renewable energy by 2011, and halving greenhouse gases by 2050.