First Solar Heated Community in Canada – Another First for Alberta

Great Green Attractions in the Canadian Prairies

Great Green Attractions in the Canadian Prairies


If you travel to Okotoks, Alberta to see The Big Rock or Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump, you may notice another unusual sight in the area. The Drake Landing Solar Community consists of 52 1500 square foot houses and 800 solar panels shining proudly from garage roofs. This is a first for North America, but the Okotoks community is even greener than you think.

The 1.5 MW collected by the community’s solar panels heats a series of pipes carrying glycol to a water heating and storage area. Then the hot water is kept underground to supply the entire community with hot water and heat during the winter. In all, the system looks after all but 10% of the heating and hot water costs of the community.

Community design and the housing itself takes environmental concerns into account as well. The first thing you may notice about the community is the proximity of the houses. Each home in the community sits close to its neighbors. The not only cuts down on the amount of piping to upkeep and repair, but it also helps to eliminate heat loss through the piping.

To conserve the heat produced by the solar panels, the underground storage cells and homes have high-rated insulation. Each home constructed in the city used only local resources and recycled materials. The community practices recycling, conservation, and other green initiatives. The total energy savings is estimated at 110.8 GJ and should eliminate 5.65 tonnes of green house gas emissions per year.

The Drake Landing Solar community isn’t the only green first in Canada. Wind farms have also begun to spread across the prairies. Makes sense when you have the amount of winds we have here. Gull Lake Saskatchewan is home to Saskatchewan’s first wind power project. The $22 million dollar project consists of 17 massive wind turbines on the bench located on the south of the Trans Canada Highway. They generate in excess of 11 megawatts of electricity.

Mcgrath Alberta is home to 20 turbines that produces enough energy to run 13 000 homes with the 30 megawatts they produce. The Chin Chute Wind Power Project in Taber, Alberta supplies the energy for another 14 000 homes with 20 turbines producing 1.5 megawatts each.

While these may not exactly be tourist attraction, they are definitely one of those things you wonder about when you see them from the highway. Canada isn’t the greenest country in the world, but it is great to see the situation improving. Come to think of it, who is the greenest country in the world?

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(Photo provided by saavem from Stock.Xchng)

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7 thoughts on “First Solar Heated Community in Canada – Another First for Alberta

  1. Great post. Thanks for the info! I’ll throw out a conjecture for the greenest country in the world: Denmark. I would imagine that on a per person or per unit area measurement they have the least greenhouse gas emissions. They use a lot of wind power and they have Greenland, which is huge and uses almost no greenhouse gases.

  2. I never considered Denmark to be honest. My original money was on Switzerland. The air and lifestyle appeared to be cleaner and very different from the rest of the world. And you are right, they are one of the world’s leading users of wind power. I have been doing some searching, but have yet to come up with the answer. I know that Greenpeace did release a study approximately a year ago that stated the answer, but I have yet to locate it.

    Thank you!


    Very interesting site by the way! I will add it to my blogroll. My readers would find it very interesting as well I’m sure!

  3. Nothing special.

    Using flat plate may be justifiable in a developing/tropical country but I would have expected evacuated tube solar collectors to have been deployed in canada; more efficient per unit metre.

    Water consumption could have been improved with rain water collation for non potable demand such as toilet flow.

    Look at bezed london.

  4. Yes, you are probably right. Considering it is the first in North America, I do feel it is a step in the right direction.

    Thank you for your comments and the tip, I will definitely check it out!

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