Drake Landing Solar Community: Okotoks  Vision. Integrity.

Energy Award

Welcome to Drake Landing Solar Community.  

photo: aerial viewThe Drake Landing Solar Community (DLSC) is a master planned neighbourhood in the Town of Okotoks, Alberta, Canada that has successfully integrated Canadian energy efficient technologies with a renewable, unlimited energy source - the sun.

The first of its kind in North America, DLSC is heated by a district system designed to store abundant solar energy underground during the summer months and distribute the energy to each home for space heating needs during winter months.

The system is unprecedented in the World, fulfilling more than ninety percent of each home’s space heating requirements from solar energy and resulting in less dependency on limited fossil fuels.

The Government of Canada and its Canadian industry partners are proud to showcase Canadian solar thermal and energy efficient technologies in this one-of-a-kind community.

Project Status

  • After nearly 14 years of continuous monitoring, performance analysis and improvements, a significant body of knowledge and experience has been learned about the solar BTES system for Canadian applications. NRCan is currently looking into expanding the focus of the research to other areas of applied low-carbon community energy systems such as technology integration, complementary renewable energy production technologies, cost reduction and emerging large-scale solar PV-thermal technologies;
  • 100% solar fraction in the 2015-2016 heating season, meaning all the heat required by the houses for space heating was supplied by solar energy;
  • Consistent solar fractions above 90% over the last 5 years, with an average of 96% for the period 2012-2016;
  • High solar fraction of 92% even during the very cold winter of 2013-2014;
  • Very low electricity usage, with coefficient of performance (COP) above 30. This means that for every kWh of electricity, the system delivers more than 30 kWh of heat;
  • Throughout the years, the electricity used for pumps was reduced by energy efficiency measures and on-site solar PV generation was increased with the addition of 18 kW in 2011. The operation is now net-zero electricity for pumping power, which includes pumping through the solar collectors, district heating loop and borehole thermal energy storage (BTES);
  • Strong educational component with frequent site visits by professionals and students. The technology is currently being considered by several communities in Canada as well as internationally by China, United States and several European countries.
  • Over 500 citations in English language journal and conference papers, thesis and reports. Solar district heating is currently the fastest growing solar thermal market segment in the world.
  • Main maintenance issues at this point are related to aging of the control system, solar collectors' expansion bellows o'rings, and water quality in the open tank short term storage tank loop (see recent paper on the Publications section). Controller failure caused a period of no heat for a few hours during the 2020-2021 season.

DLSC Highlights

  • The largest subdivision of R-2000 single family homes in Canada, each 30% more efficient than conventionally built homes.
  • A first in the world, with over 90% of residential space heating needs being met by solar thermal energy.
  • A reduction of approximately 5 tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per home per year.
  • Won the 2011 World Energy Globe Award for Sustainability.