The company is exiting stealth mode to start making offers
Energy startup Totem Power has unveiled its first entry into the smart grid market, the Totem tower, and the first commercial models will debut in summer 2017.
Each Totem has a 5 kilowatt solar array and can store 50 kilowatt-hours (kWh) worth of energy. (By way of comparison, Tesla’s new Powerwall 2, designed as a vehicle charging station that can also support a 4-bedroom home is rated at 14 kWh.)
Totems will support communications, energy storage, solar collection, smart lighting, and electric vehicle (EV) charging.
“We’re excited by the limitless potential for smart city technology atop that core, and we look forward to working with cities to maximize the opportunities,” CEO Brian Lakamp told Geektime in an interview.
The company is putting special emphasis on what it calls “inspirational and engaging” designs. In terms of returns, Totem Power hopes that by, “Getting people to understand, interact and get excited” about public infrastructure it will help “drive public understanding and support,” as well as attract corporate partners.
Totem Power told Geektime that it is in talks with partners, though says that specific entities are not being named at this stage. Details about investments and unit costs are also not being disclosed at this time, though, though, “Relevant clean energy incentives are expected to apply” for companies, schools, and cities that install the Totems.
To further develop utility of the platform, the company confirmed that once built, “Totems will network amongst themselves using available communications networks.” The system will support both Wi-Fi and 4G. Since communications comes into it, there are data security needs for people who connect through Totem networks, and the company says, “Network security is key to any offering with communications, and we take our commitment to security very seriously,” and has hired a CTO with extensive experience in both communications and infrastructure security to this end.
And, these networks will be able to function in the event of grid failure. With these emergency backup functions in mind, Totem will be coordinating with city, state, and other levels of government with building redundancy in the event of, say, a big storm like Hurricane Sandy happening again or other “extreme conditions” that could cripple regular utilities and telecom providers.
Currently, Tesla dominates the vehicle charging market, and is planning to expand its operations with an acquisition of panel manufacturer SolarCity. However, given the potential size of the market, Totem Power does not see itself facing down Tesla per se, but pursuing its own path, “to enable cleaner and more capable lifestyles” for customers across a wider range of services, rather solely EV.
Worldwide, solar energy is inching forward to build more power capacity and costs are falling. Renewable energy is expected to account for 28% of all power generation in the world by 2012, reports The Financial Times.