This startup combines solar, lighting, WiFi, energy storage, and EV charging into a single unit

Totem Power
© Totem Power

Totem Power's platform takes the concept of a utility pole to a whole new level.

Would the transition to renewables happen faster if the installations looked better, and were more integrated into the public space, rather than relegated to a roof or back lot? Perhaps we'd see more smart renewable infrastructure installations if some of it were to include stylish and functional all-in-one devices such as the one from the startup Totem Power.

Cities are already full of power and communications infrastructure, but with the rapid adoption of wireless communication, and the coming wave of electric vehicles, combined with the affordability of distributed energy generation (such as on-site solar), perhaps it's time to upgrade some of it. A smart city will require smarter infrastructure, and the Totem Power platform, which combines solar power, communications, energy storage, and electric vehicle charging, is an attempt to meet that need by redesigning what it calls "smart utility."

The first Totem model, which is expected to launch in the summer of 2017, will incorporate a 5 kW solar array at the top, a 44 kWh battery system, efficient ('smart') lighting, along with WiFi and 4G communications equipment and an EV charger. The units are designed to be integral and stylish additions to urban infrastructure, and while not sized large enough to power most businesses on their own, could be installed on business properties, parking lots, or sidewalks to add energy storage and communications functionality.

"Totem believes design can fundamentally change the world. We’re on a mission to realize the full potential of energy’s transformation by providing communities and corporations with intelligent, experiential and engaging structures - something that delivers powerful functionality and tells an easily understood story about clean energy and the next generation of critical services. We are building technology for the cities of tomorrow." - Brian Lakamp, CEO and founder of Totem Power

One key benefit claimed by Totem Power is resiliency, in that this distributed energy generation and storage device would enable critical services to be maintained in emergency situations, and "communications powered by Totem will continue to operate in the event of grid failure." Another is increased access for connected devices and consumers through street-level communication arrays, which the proliferation of the Internet of Things and the coming days of autonomous vehicles will require more of. And of course, adding more EV charging points, which will allow more flexibility for electric car drivers, is an important step toward a cleaner transport system.

There's no word yet on the price for this model, but Totem Power has more info.

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