Totem poles bring solar power, comms and lighting to city streets
As cities look for ways to source renewable energy, cleanly charge electric vehicles and provide fast, ubiquitous communication networks, New York-based startup Totem has developed something called the Totem to deliver all three. What's more, it looks pretty good too.
The Totem will combine solar panels with accompanying energy storage, Wi-Fi and 4G modules, EV charging and smart lighting, depending on what the customer requires. It is designed for use as street lighting, at schools, on corporate campuses and in retail settings. While it doesn't look entirely unlike some existing streetlights, there is an elegance about the design, with a long pole that fans out into a tilted, circular set of petals at the top.
Integrated into the top of the petals will be a 5 kW solar panel array. In addition to powering the various features of the Totem, the load of which will vary depending on the configuration and deployment, they will be able feed surplus power back into the grid. This is aimed in part at helping to distribute energy generation in cities. The Totem can draw energy from the grid too, if required.
Surplus energy will also be stored in batteries that are housed in the pole. These will have a capacity of 50 kWh and will ensure that the Totems will continue to work even if there is a grid failure.
The pole will house 4G and Wi-Fi modules, too. These network services will be provided by third parties and Totem isn't disclosing whether it expects them to be free or paid for services at the moment.
The first version will reportedly be able to charge two EVs at a time, although the company won't currently disclose what charger types will be supported. Elsewhere, there will be LED smart lighting set into the underside of the petals, which will use ambient light sensors to trigger the lighting when required.
The first Totem is due for release in the middle of 2017.
The video below provides a look at the Totem.