Renewable Energy Inventory

Solar Heating

Solar air and hot water heating are relatively simple and robust technologies. Water-based systems absorb heat from the sun in enclosed solar collector panels and transfer that heat through an exchanger to be stored in an auxiliary hot water tank. This heated water can then be used for space heating or as preheated domestic hot water. Solar energy can also be used in a similar fashion to pre-heat air directly. This pre-heated air can then be used for space heating. A solar heating system can offset over 50 per cent of household annual hot water and heating costs by significantly reducing the large amounts of electricity or fossil fuels that standard heaters typically consume. Like photovoltaic panels, this form of solar energy is most available in the spring and summer when the sun is strongest.

Currently, residents of the Northwest Territories produce 79 MW∙h of heat per year from solar hot water heating. This is roughly the same amount of heat needed to replace 50 per cent of the heating load for hot water in 40 households. Planned upgrades for eight seasonal swimming pools are estimated to produce an additional 22 MW∙h of heat per year. The overall potential for solar hot water heating is vast. If all 41,000 households in the three territories were to install solar domestic water heating it would result in a saving of 80,000 MWh.

Photos courtesy of Patrick Kane/Up Here, Dianne Villesèche/www.ravenink.ca and ArcticNet. © 2016 A Northern Vision