Monday, October 4, 2010

Drakes Landing storing heat underground

[Diagram from the Drake's Landing website]
3 Oct '10: One of the writers on Navi tron forum reminded me about Drake's Landing, a solar settlement in Okotoks, Alberta, Canada. It is an estate of 52 houses that have a large array of solar thermal panels on their garages. The heat is taken to a grouped cluster of boreholes that has a large energy centre on top of the boreholes, a district heating scheme, that sends the heated water back to the houses in an insulated duct. Each house has a local solar panel for topping up the water heating.
[Google Streetview image]
  It is reported that 80 percent of the space heating need is met by the project's boreholes and energy centre.
  I am thinking of how this could apply to the project I am working on in Surrey, about 90 houses. I still think that in the way that the British housing market works, ours would still be better off with a borehole each and a heat pump in each house, with no shared ducting required in either direction. We also do not have the large array of garages, and yes!, we do want to have most of the house roofs for PV. It's likely that a bulk order for 90 heat pumps would be cheaper than their combined district heating energy centre. (I know all the arguments in favour of district heating, but the Brits are peculiarly insular...) So, we are likely to go for wall mounted sunboxes, which I hope will be a proven technology by this time next year.
  Okotoks is almost precisely the same latitude as Surrey, but has a continental climate, somewhat arid in summer, and long very cold winters. We will still pursue the idea of Sunboxes driven by heat pumps... but don't let anybody try to convince me that the idea is not going to work. Drake's Landing has exceeded expectations!


  1. David,
    Brits ARE insular & prone to whine, however individual heating.
    Surely, in an environment of shrinking resources ought to be able to tap in on excess & replenish at other times , thus district & it's requirements, surely by means of individual boreholes we are barb-wiring "ours" & theirs, rather than changing attitudes with regards to how full the energy "pot" is rather than mine all mine, i'll use it as I wish without care or thought to others & cry foul when I personally run out?
    Surely by means of shared responsibility we can induce a change? ...idealism asides how much extra over a 50yr housing plan is a communal heat set up compared to ones own? that's how site developers will look at it, i.e. the bottom line!
    The other uk aspect I suppose to consider is the asset of the estates power set up, it would have to be a pretty radical govt that takes your heating from your property compared to selling off the rights on a flimsy context the communal energy pot & then charge you a premium based on maintenance.
    Like that's never happened within the uk for nationally owned commodities.(see current power companies)

  2. I read that 60% of homes in Denmark work with district heating. To the British ear, this sounds not believable - and the British Land Registry, Chartered Surveyors and Law profession tilt everything to the freehold house being self contained and not dependent on shared anything, other than the usual municipal services. Look how the surveyors opposed the highly sensible idea of HIPS.
    if you do have district heating, there is a simple way to stop people turning up the heating and opening the windows, and that is Metering. You can meter heat just like you can meter electricity or gas.


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