Drake Landing exceeding expectations; Communal energy system developing ahead
Byline: Don Patterson, Okotoks Western Wheel – June 2, 2010
The Drake Landing Solar Community in Okotoks has
hit a new world-leading milestone with 80 per cent of
the energy used to heat homes in the development
coming from the sun.
The community's solar energy system has reached the
80 per cent plateau after three years, one year ahead
"The system is working more efficiently than before
and with better solar collection than we expected,"
said Okotoks communication specialist Melanie
The solar community was the first large-scale
seasonal solar energy storage system and it's the first
of its kind in the world to reach the 80 per cent level.
The target was to reach the 90 per cent mark within
five years, a level it's anticipated to reach by next
"We can save 90 per cent of the emissions that would
be burned to heat these houses," said Keith Paget of
Sterling Homes which built the houses in Drake
The solar community includes 52 homes tied to a
communal heating system. Rows of solar panels on
the garages are used to heat water, which is then
pumped underground. The heat is stored in the
ground and the temperature slowly rises each year.
On cloudy days or in the winter, the flow of energy is
reversed and the stored hot water is used to heat the
The system hit the 55 per cent mark in its first year
and 61 per cent in its second, which was actually
behind schedule. Paget said they were able to catch
up over the past year thanks to a warmer winter and
improvements in efficiency.
He said they readjusted the amount of energy sent to
the homes after they found too much was being sent
out. As well, Paget said they were able to improve
the system after draining and replumbing the
short-term storage tanks.
According to Paget, the key is to keep a close eye on
the system and constantly monitor it to ensure it's
working effectively efficiently.
The Town has also launched a live web site where
the public can track the system's performance. It
provides current data for solar energy available, the
amount of solar radiation collected and current
temperatures of the energy storage tanks.
The site can be accessed through the Town's web site
at www.okotoks.ca and selecting the Drake Landing
link in the Sustainable Okotoks menu.