Drake Landing Solar Community: Okotoks

Energy Award

About DLSC

Drake Landing homesThe Drake Landing Solar Community (DLSC) is located in Okotoks, Alberta, 15 minutes south of Calgary (Google Maps Location). The unique feature of DLSC is that more than 90 percent of space heating needs for the community’s 52 single-detached homes is met by solar thermal energy, a feat unprecedented anywhere else in the world.

The DLSC is also the first major implementation in North America of a technology known as seasonal solar thermal energy storage. Solar thermal energy is collected in the summer, stored underground, and then returned to the homes as heat during the winter.

There are five main components of the DLSC project: the solar collection, the Energy Centre with short-term energy storage, the seasonal Borehole Thermal Energy Storage (BTES) system, the district heating system, and the energy efficient homes certified to the R-2000 Standard. Visit the How It Works section to learn how these five components are integrated to create an unparalleled residential heating system based on a renewable resource – the sun.

The DLSC was a project conceived by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), a federal department of the Government of Canada. To see the DLSC through to fruition, NRCan established partnerships with innovative, environmentally conscious companies that had longstanding, credible reputations within their industries. Ground was broken at the DLSC in the spring of 2005, with the system starting operation in the summer of 2007.

The Benefits of DLSC

The DLSC is an energy showcase, modeling how an environmentally friendly residential community can be accomplished.  The community will draw on a clean, unlimited energy source – the sun – and significantly reduce dependency on limited fossil fuels.

The immediate benefit of this project will be a decrease in green house gas (GHG) emissions.  An average Canadian home produces approximately 6 to 7 tonnes of GHG per year. Estimates for DLSC are that each home will produce approximately 5 tonnes fewer GHG emissions per year. 

The longer-term benefits of this project are dependent on how often and how quickly this system – or even parts of this system – is replicated, in Canada and other countries. A longstanding barrier to the acceptance of solar thermal technology in cold climates has been the sun’s noticeable absence during the winter season. Short days, cloudy skies and snow-covered solar panels are major natural obstacles. The DLSC demonstrates how the effective integration of energy-efficient technologies with seasonal thermal energy storage can overcome this traditional seasonal barrier, and will hopefully encourage increased investment and development opportunities for this renewable technology.

The DLSC reinforces the energy savings and GHG reductions for this type of development, setting the stage for large-scale projects that will be more cost-effective and energy efficient, leading to significant decarbonisation without straining of the power grid.

As energy prices rise the economics of this type of system will become more attractive, and as replication does occur, the design and construction costs will decrease. As this happens, the environmental benefits will be multiplied.

Energy Consumption Comparison
Energy Consumption Comparison