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Burrowing Owl Winery


Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, Oliver, BC

System Info:

  • Winery and Guest House
  • Geothermal and Solar Hybrid System
  • 30 Solar panels for Domestic Hot Water, Building heat and Ground loop support
  • The impressive solar and geothermal heating-cooling system at the Burrowing Owl Estate Winery south of Oliver leaves nothing to be desired in an efficient, versatile renewable energy system.
  • This state-of-the-art system takes care of a full time restaurant, 11 luxury guest suites with hot tubs, a wine shop, other hospitality areas and even a large swimming pool. Since the previously built winery facility was constructed either partly or fully below grade with concrete, it already tapped into natural temperature control. The new solar/geothermal energy system was mainly for the wine shop, restaurant and new hospitality additions, though the wine cellar does benefit from unlimited amounts of 90° C water for barrel washing which is provided by solar heating.

How the system works:

The solar energy is generated by two arrays of solar panels located on adjacent roofs. Each comprises 15 solar collectors arranged five wide in three rows. All are tilted toward the elevation of the winter sun, since summer sun needs little help. One array faces south-south-west for the afternoon.

The output for the warmer part of the year is 90° C., perfect for barrel rinsing, but requiring some mixing with cold water to produce the 50° C domestic water temperatures needed in the restaurant and guest suites. The computer takes care of this of course.

For the hot tubs and swimming pool the computer follows a protocol of calling on the solar heated water first, the geothermal supply second, and a boiler for winter of cloudy conditions as its third backup option.

To access natural stabilizing temperatures for the geothermal system, a decision was made to go down, and a total of 30 boreholes were drilled 200 feet deep.

Loops of thick walled pipe were lowered into the holes, ballasted by sand. This infrastructure feeds an elaborate system of heat pumps, heat exchangers, storage tanks and interchanges that allow a computer to juggle independent cooling and heating needs as well as conserve or redirect heat from one part of the winery operation to supply another.

A complex but neatly laid out mechanical room, built of concrete like the rest of the structures, contains a phalanx of insulated pipes from the geothermal side come together so the computer can shunt warm and cool water between a total of eight storage tanks which have a total capacity or 3,600 litres before sending it out to the many user branches in the winery and hospitality/restaurant wing.

System benefits:

This is an exceptionally efficient system, and virtually no other energy input is required when the geothermal system is teamed up with the solar energy setup.

Knitting such a logical but complex system together is an impressive feat, and a great versatility it offers will be an ongoing boon to both Burrowing Owl’s winery and its hospitality operations.

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