Research undertaken some 25-years ago and long prior to the development of kinetic turbines revolved around the potential to build a dam across the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) and installing low-head turbines. The estimated tidal power output was in excess of 400,000MW for the entire Gulf and tides in the northern region of the Sea of Cortez fluctuate by up to 29-feet or 9-meters. An examination of the topography of the sea floor in the region of Tiburon Island and its neighbor San Lorenzo Island offers the potential to reduce the depth across much of the channel in that region.
A ridge of rocks and boulders may be built between San Lorenzo and Tiburon Islands and extended across the western side of the gulf. The resulting reduction in channel depth offers the potential to accelerate the tidal current in that region, where an extensive array of kinetic turbines may be installed. The largest example of such technology is currently being tested off the coast of Scotland and has an estimated peak output of 2MW. There may be potential to install up to 1000 such units in the Sea of Cortez, in shallower channels developed across the Sea of Cortez near San Lorenzo and Tiburon Islands. There would also be the alternative option of developing low-head hydroelectric power dams in that region.
An extensive array of kinetic turbines may be placed at sufficient depth to allow for easy and unrestricted passage of fishing vessels and other large ships in the region of San Lorenzo Island. A possible reduction in tidal height of 1-ft or 0.3m in the northern region of the Sea of Cortez would allow for the possible development of navigation and power generation channels between the Sea of Cortez and the Salton Sea, research undertaken by Roger Arnold as a means to provide seasonal energy storage for Southern California and Northwestern Mexico. The development of low-head dams across the Sea of Cortez may reduce tidal height to some 20-feet in the northern region of the Sea and still allow for seasonal energy storage in the Salton Sea.
Using the Salton Sea for seasonal energy storage would provide an energy storage reservoir for off-peak tidal power generation from kinetic turbines placed across the Sea of Cortez. There are several oceanic inlets around the Sea of Cortez and Baja California with potential for future development for kinetic power generation. In some cases, the entrances of the inlets may need to be narrowed or depth reduced to raise the velocity of tidal currents that flow into and out of the inlets. There are several channels between the mainland and parallel offshore islands such as Isabela Island that may be converted into bays by having land bridges of rocks and boulders being built at one end.
The coast of California is renowned for waves that provide for surfing. The coast of Baja California has similar waves, including in the region of Sebastian Vizcaino Bay and the southern tip of the peninsula, where the relatively cool California Current merges with the warmer North Equatorial Current. Future development of wave energy conversion technology offers the prospect of reliable power over the long-term future, including off-peak power during the winter months that may be placed into seasonal storage at the Salton Sea. The land elevation in northern Baja California is suitable for future wind energy conversion using conventional technology as well as airborne or high-altitude wind energy power conversion that may operate outside of commercial fight paths.
A company from Vancouver, Canada is examining the prospect of linking the power generation capacity of British Columbia to Northern California via a submarine power cable placed off the Pacific Coast. Depending on prevailing weather conditions, British Columbia often has sufficient wintertime hydroelectric generating capacity for their own domestic use and may have excess to sell into seasonal storage in the Salton Sea. Much of the State of Nevada along with the region around Yellowstone National Park has potential for expanded geothermal energy generation with future potential to sell excess off-peak winter power generation into storage at the Salton Sea.
There is the potential for increased summer time demand for electric power across State of California and Mexico. The fluctuation in tidal height in the Northern Sea of Cortez offers the prospect for future power generation using either kinetic turbine technology or low-head hydroelectric power dams. The difference in elevation between the Sea of Cortez and the Salton Sea offers the potential to develop to build channels to provide ship navigation, power generation and water desalination. There is potential for tidal power generation in the Sea of Cortez to co-exist with or compliment the potential for energy storage at the Salton Sea. Changing weather patterns in the Southwestern USA will require a shift to cost competitive oceanic power conversion and oceanic based seasonal energy storage in the region in the decades ahead.