Green energy bosses are calling on the Scottish and UK governments to invest £80 million in wave and tidal power.
Industry body RenewableUK said the cash was needed to help the sector - which could create 10,000 jobs in the UK by 2020 - develop to its full potential. It warned that without investment there is a risk jobs could go overseas. Scotland boasts 25% of Europe's tidal power and 10% of its wave power, with marine energy having the potential to provide 20% of the electricity consumed in the UK.
A new report on the state of the marine energy industry said governments in Edinburgh and London had so far only provided £38 million for the sector - just under a third of the £120 million needed for its full-scale commercialisation.
RenewableUK said some of the necessary cash could be provided by the Green Investment Bank (GIB), but added that this does not currently provide funding for early-stage marine energy development. It called on UK ministers to address the issue, arguing this type of support was particularly vital as every £1 of public cash can bring in up to £6 of private investment.
The industry body estimated the sector could be worth £3.7 billion to the UK by the end of the decade. But Maria McCaffery, chief executive of RenewableUK, said that adopting "an overly cautious approach could allow other countries to steal Scotland's lead".
She added: "It's vital that the Scottish and UK governments build on the good work they've already done by supporting the development of these industries, to ensure that we can retain our leading position globally. This will also give us an opportunity to secure a large part of the worldwide market by exporting our technology."
David Krohn, RenewableUK's wave and tidal development manager, urged the coalition Government at Westminster to allow the Green Investment Bank to support wave and tidal projects at an early stage. He said: "It's frustrating that ministers have not yet identified marine energy as a priority sector for the GIB."
A Scottish Government spokesman said they had announced an £18 million fund to help "unleash the power of Scotland's seas" as part of a wider package of support for the sector.
He said: "Marine energy is crucial in transforming our energy supply and will contribute to our ambitious but achievable target for the equivalent of Scotland's electricity needs to be met from renewables by 2020 and to continue to be an exporter of electricity.
"That's why we have announced an £18 million commercialisation fund which will help developers unleash the power of Scotland's seas, as part of a wider package of £35 million of support for this sector. This is on top of £30 million that has already been committed to marine by the Scottish Government, including in previous grant schemes and infrastructure for the European Marine Energy Centre."