International Recognition for Canada’s Solar Community

By Chantal Hunter
January 2012

An innovative solar thermal technology project initiated and led by Natural Resources Canada recently won the 2011 Golden Energy Globe World Award.
Photo of Doug McClenahan holding Golden Energy Globe World Award

Doug McClenahan holding Golden Energy Globe World Award

In 2007, 52 families moved into a community on the outskirts of Calgary, Alberta, that was designed to use solar thermal technology as its primary source of energy. Since then, the Drake Landing Solar Community has continually received international attention from researchers and other municipalities alike. That’s because the community achieved the outstanding accomplishment of meeting more than 80 percent of its heating energy needs using solar thermal technology in such a cold climate.

The international community recently further praised this achievement. In November 2011, Drake Landing was recognized for its innovative excellence by a prize jury of members from international organizations such as the World Bank and the European Renewable Energy Council. Initiated and led by Natural Resources Canada, the project won the Energy Globe Foundation’s Golden Energy Globe World Award for 2011. This is a first for the department and the first time a Canadian project has achieved such a distinction.

International Recognition

Since 1999, the International Energy Globe Award has recognized projects that make careful and economical use of resources and employ alternative energy sources. After reviewing more than 1000 projects and initiatives from 115 nations, the jury nominated Drake Landing in the category of “Fire,” which deals with projects that focus on energy initiatives.

“I am thrilled by the recognition the Drake Landing solar project has received from the international sustainability community. Our hope is that other countries will follow suit with similar projects and investments in renewable solar energy.”

Doug McClenahan, Manager, Active Solar R&D, NRCan

After winning its individual category, Drake Landing was selected over five other category winners to win the 2011 Golden Energy Globe World Award.The community’s competition included a rural clean water system in Nicaragua and an initiative by the Port of Gothenburg, Sweden, to allow vessels to turn off their diesel engines in port and use onshore power provided by two local wind turbines. Many of the individuals that voted for the Canadian project said that they did so because it had the greatest potential for replication around the world.

“I am thrilled by the recognition the Drake Landing solar project has received from the international sustainability community,” says Doug McClenahan, NRCan’s manager of solar research and development, who accepted the award in Austria. “There is increasing recognition worldwide that energy storage is the key to increasing the use of renewable energy, and demonstrations like Drake help to prove this point. I’m excited to continue work with many of the original Drake team members to help take this concept to a much larger scale in the future.”

In making the community a reality, NRCan teamed with the town of Okotoks, utility provider ATCO Gas, developer United Communities and Sterling Homes.

“Like the other prize winners, Drake Landing is a model for greener, healthier communities,” says Doug. “It was made possible by forward-thinking individuals and the many partnerships forged along the way.”

About Drake Landing

Photo of Drake Landing Solar Community, Okotoks, Alberta

Drake Landing Solar Community, Okotoks, Alberta

Drake Landing Solar Community is located in Okotoks, Alberta, just south of Calgary. It is North America’s first large-scale seasonal storage solar heating system and the first in the world to provide such a high percentage of space heating from solar energy. The project includes adistrict heating system that stores abundant solar energy during summer months and distributes it to homes for their space heating needs during winter.  

Drake Landing Solar Community is on track to fulfilling its five-year target of providing 90 percent of each home’s space heating requirements from solar thermal energy by 2012 — an unprecedented achievement for solar thermal.

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