Drake Landing solar project

Figure 1. Drake Landing aerial view. The solar collectors are visible on the garages and homes, with the Energy Centre in the top right.[1]

The Drake Landing solar project is a renewable energy project that provides homes with their energy primarily from solar energy. It is a community built in Okotoks, AB, Canada, consisting of 52 highly efficient homes, which receive 90% of their energy for space heating from the Sun. It is the first of its kind in North America, and was conceived by Natural Resources Canada in 2005.[2] It is designed to address issues such as global warming and fossil fuel use. As a result, each home emits approximately 5 tonnes of greenhouse gases less than the average home, per year.[1]

The project was completed in August 2007 and the Grand Opening was in September 2007. Their first 5-year-plan's goal of achieving 90% of its space heating from the Sun was surpassed, with solar energy providing each home with 97% of its space heating needs.[2] In addition to space heating, 60% of each home's domestic water heating needs are also met by solar energy, with the rest being supplied by natural gas.

How it works

Heat Capture and Storage

800 solar collectors are located on garage roofs throughout the community, and the array collects a total of 1.5 MW of thermal energy during a typical summer day. These collectors heat a glycol solution (antifreeze) which circulates underground towards the community's Energy Centre.[1] Working as a heat exchanger, the pipes containing the glycol transfer heat to a short-term storage water tank. This water is distributed to an underground borehole system, in which pipes are buried 37 meters underground and hot water is made to circulate through them in order to heat the ground, effectively storing the heat for later use.[1]

The ground reaches a temperature of about 80°C before winter months, and to avoid heat loss it is covered with high density R-40 insulation, sand, clay, and other materials.

Heat distribution

Come winter, when the homes need extensive space heating, the borehole system can be made to heat the water from the Energy Centre's water tank. This heat is then circulated to each home through the district heating loop, where it passes through each home's own heating system. In the heating system this water heats air which can be blown through the ductwork and into the home. When the sufficient temperature is met in the home, a thermostat automatically regulates the heating and keeps the home at a comfortable temperature.

Current conditions

The visualization below is from their website and shows the system's current operating conditions.

Visit the Drake Landing solar community webpage for more information


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Drake Landing Solar Community. (August 14, 2015). Home page [Online], Available: http://www.dlsc.ca/
  2. 2.0 2.1 Natural Resources Canada. (August 14, 2015). Drake Landing Solar Community [Online], Available: https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/media-room/backgrounders/2012/3299

Authors and Editors

Jordan Hanania, Kailyn Stenhouse, Jason Donev
Last updated: September 14, 2018
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