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Alberta Solar-Heating Project First in North America

    CALGARY, March 30 /CNW Telbec/ - Capturing the sun's rays in the summer
to heat homes in the winter will soon be a reality in a neighbourhood in
Alberta. Today, Senator Tommy Banks, on behalf of the Honourable R. John
Efford, Minister of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), and the Honourable
Stéphane Dion, Minister of the Environment, announced a collaboration to build
and operate North America's first large-scale solar-heating system using
seasonal storage. The partners are the governments of Canada and Alberta, the
Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) through the Green Municipal Funds,
and a number of Canadian companies.
    "This system significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and
demonstrates the importance of using clean, renewable energy sources," said
Senator Banks. "It's exciting to see a project of this size being realized
that will have environmental benefits for the community of Okotoks and will
also set an example across North America."
    "The Government of Alberta takes pride in advancing improvements to
existing technologies, as well as seeking innovative approaches to meet the
ongoing energy needs of all Albertans," said the Honourable Victor Doerksen,
Alberta Minister of Innovation and Science. "The new Drake Landing subdivision
in Okotoks is an example of the type of innovation being supported in our
province as we look for ways to better use all of our natural resources."
    "The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is pleased to support this
project through the Green Municipal Funds," said City of Calgary Alderman Joe
Ceci, representing the FCM. "It will lay out an important road map with
lessons learned for other communities across the country that want to
replicate Okotoks' experience in the future."
    The system will supply more than 90 percent of the space-heating
requirements for the Drake Landing Solar Community of 52 homes being built in
Okotoks, just south of Calgary. The demonstration project will collect the
sun's energy through solar panels mounted on garage roofs and then transfer it
to underground storage. The storage temperature increases over the summer and
then, during the winter season, the thermal energy is retrieved and
distributed through a central district heating system to homes in the
community. This project is supported by many organizations including United
Communities, Sterling Homes, ATCO Gas, the Town of Okotoks, Climate Change
Central and EnerWorks.
    Approximately 80 percent of residential greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in
Canada come from space and domestic hot-water heating. This project is
estimated to reduce GHG emissions for each house by 5 tonnes per year. That
translates into 260 tonnes per year for the community.
    The Government of Canada's Technology Early Action Measures program and
NRCan have contributed $2 million to this project. Through the Green Municipal
Funds, the FCM has invested $2.9 million. The Government of Alberta has
provided $625,000 in funding through its Innovation Program.
    The Drake Landing Solar Community project enhances our quality of life by
contributing to knowledge, innovation and technology in the natural resources
sectors, which are a vital part of Canada's economy and society. It also
supports the Government of Canada's commitment to building on the strength of
our country and our people.

    A media backgrounder with more information on the project can be found at
www.nrcan.gc.ca/media .

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