World’s first off-grid toll plaza

01 May 2013

Arup has brought to life the ZINARA (Zimbabwe National Roads Agency) Toll Plaza near Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, the world’s first completely off-grid toll plaza.

The Toll Plaza’s only source of power is derived from solar panels installed on the roof over the plaza lanes and collection booths.

The project is part of the Zimbabwe government’s initiative to upgrade the logistics network and support anticipated growth, which will see a total of eight toll plazas constructed and operated across the country. The Plazas will be operated by Intertoll, a subsidiary of Group Five.

Arup was tasked with delivering a suitable off-grid power supply for the plazas in Zimbabwe, and provided civil, structural, mechanical and electrical, public health and infrastructure engineering services.

To demonstrate the viability of the scheme, Arup developed a unique model 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. 

 “Sustainable traffic management solutions will influence our future heavily so this was the perfect opportunity to develop a concept that would help save valuable energy and reduce energy costs. We are also thrilled to be involved in a project that will aid growth and support Zimbabwe’s economy.”

— Paul Trewartha, senior electrical engineer and electrical design manager, Arup

The project is part of Arup’s appointment with Group Five International – Zimbabwe Branch for the 822km Plumtree to Mutare roads upgrade. Group Five, a Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed company, has operations in Africa, Indian Ocean Islands and selected Eastern Europe countries.

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Contacts

Charlotte Schofield

T+44 (0) 207 755 4659

Emedia@arup.com

  • Image of solar panels at the toll plaza. Open gallery

    The Toll Plaza’s only source of power is derived from solar panels installed on the roof over the plaza lanes and collection booths.