When I was a kid, "telephone poles" carried phone lines, power lines, and cable TV. And they were ugly. Totem Power wants to modernize their function and eliminate their unsightliness.
The upstart company recently introduced Totem, a twenty-first century utility pole that sports a photovoltaic array, an onboard battery, a wireless communication hub, a smart LED streetlight, and an electric vehicle charging port. The futuristic power pillar is designed to help cities and utility companies to grow smart, clean-energy communities with reliable electrical and communication networks. Created for city streets, campuses, parking lots - anywhere you'd find a streetlight - the Totem blends distributed generation with a sleek, modern appearance.
The Future of Utility Poles
Like today's utility poles, the Totem carries electric power lines from the grid. In addition, the Totem includes a 5 kW photovoltaic array, which charges a built-in 44 kWh Li-ion battery bank. The combination solar array and battery bank provide a source of backup power in the event of a grid failure. It also keeps the wireless communication network alive during power outages. Beyond that, the PV and storage can assist with energy management by delivering power locally during peak demand times. Since it's grid-tied, the Totem can also feed electricity to the grid. The 5 kW solar array is the size of a typical residential rooftop system, and the battery is the equivalent of about three Tesla Powerwall units. By itself, it's not much, but a street or parking lot filled with Totems could put a significant dent in local power consumption from the grid.