The Solar Accord (Toll Plaza Prototype - Powered by Solar Energy)
In November 2014, the Ministry of Highways & Road Transport had organized a 2-stage national level design competition, inviting entries from architects & planners from across the country asking for a design of a prototype of Toll Plazas powered by solar energy to be implemented phase-wise in different parts of the country.The idea was to identify design solutions that could promote the use of non-conventional sources of energy, thereby reducing the dependency on the over-burdened power supply grids and promote green building practices & energy efficient solutions. Our Team were among the top three winners and subsequently, our design for these plazas have been selected to be implemented in the locations identified by the ministry.
The design of the solar canopies above the toll plaza is inspired from the structure of "a sunflower" and its incessant tendency to orient itself in such a way that it always faces the sun, a phenomenon known as “Heliotropism”. Each “tree” or the solar canopy can be rotated mechanically along its axis according to different positions of the sun along the solar path in different parts of country. Each element / branch of the tree, consisting of a number of solar panels can be rotated along its axis as per winter and summer sun for maximum solar gain. To demonstrate the viability of the scheme, a unique model was developed to simulate expected seasonal generation and daily load trends. This established that solar panels could supply more than 80% of the load needed to power the plaza, with diesel generation provided as back-up. The plaza operates independently of the electricity grid, reducing its carbon footprint.
The Solar Accord reflects towards a self-sustainable, energy efficient and functionally adaptable design of toll plazas powered by solar energy that can be easily modified to respond to the variable locations and climatic parameters. The modular design of these plazas allows for easy fabrication and cost effective installation. It emphasizes on the idea of multiple small canopies as against a single continuous structure, which allows it to rotate easily as per the sun path in different locations and orient itself accordingly.