Totem Power Imagines How To Build Zero Emissions Smart Cities

Originally published on Gas2

Totem, Power, a New York start-up company, calls itself “The Future Of Smart Power.” Totem proposes to build a network of devices that will bring zero emissions power, internet access, street lighting, energy storage, and EV charging stations to the smart cities of the future. Looking like a cross between a large concrete lily pad and the Martian armada that invaded earth in The War Of The Worlds, the structures Totem imagines would have solar panels on top, energy storage batteries in the center supporting stalk, and integrated 4G wifi, street lights, and EV charging stations on the outside.

Totem Power for smart cities

The central focus of the Totem system is reducing carbon emissions in the smart cities of the future. Now that the Trump pseudo-administration has declared war on environmental regulations and embraced fossil fuels as the pathway to making America great again, cities, which account for over 70% of all emissions, may have to look inward for ways to combat climate change. As millions more people flock to urban areas each year, cities could unite to fight the insanity raining down from Washington, where Sarah “I can see Putin from my front porch” Palin will soon be Interior Secretary.

“Totem believes design can fundamentally change the world,” says Brian Lakamp, CEO and founder of Totem Power. “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.”

“Energy, communications and transportation need to undergo radical transformations to support the emerging needs of truly smart, clean cities,” the company says in a recent press relesae. “Totem provides the foundation for reshaping smart utility in an integrated, visually-stunning product designed for the living spaces of communities, instead of relegating it to only rooftops and garages.” Totem believes that its creation will be able to “shatter the limits for solar and wind that the current network imposes,” and create a product that can be used in locations as varied as city streets, schools, corporate campuses, and retail locations.

Two advantages of the Totem idea  for smat cities are that its network will continue to provide power and internet access in times of emergency and/or when the electrical grid is disabled. It could also play an important role in the smart grids that will be needed in the future to help balance the electrical distribution system.

A smart grid can defer vehicle charging, reduce power slightly to IoT connected devices like air conditioners, water heaters, or refrigerators. Small variations in voltage do not affect the operation of those devices significantly, but when applied over a broad range of devices — even for a few seconds or a few minutes — can greatly reduce the need to power up auxiliary facilities when the demand for electricity spikes.

Is Totem Power a realistic idea or just a chance for engineering students to show off their art and design skills? One has to be a little concerned about how well these structures would survive a Category 4 or higher hurricane. Totem Power is one of many possible solutions to urban sustainability. Whether is is practical or not remains to be seen. If you were looking to invest in clean tech companies, would you put your money into Totem Power?

Source: Joshua Hill/Cleantechnica









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writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island. You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter.