Electrification and the Smart Cities of the Future

Energy production and distribution continue to be some of the most important topics within larger conversations about decarbonization and building a more sustainable future. 

Our guest expert on the topic, Fabrice Glorieux, had firsthand experience with widespread electrification efforts back in the 1990s. At the time, this shift was in direct response to a growing demand for power, brought on by the popularization of various electronic devices beyond basic appliances. 

“Society was becoming progressively more oriented toward electrical devices, and we needed reliable, robust, and safe products with an increasing number of versions. Industrial capacity was also a key subject since the demand was up.”

In response, the electrical energy industry started developing manufacturing capacities in several key emerging markets, such as China, Mexico, and India.  

The next major industry shift came in the early 2000s when it became possible to manage both hardware and energy via software.

“We also started to shift from a pure hardware product business to a solution business, considering that customer requests were getting more and more demanding in terms of monitoring and information.” 

More recently, electrical energy companies have turned their attention toward reducing inefficiencies of electrical distribution, and currently, advanced technologies are making it even easier to manage electrical distribution. 

“With the rise of electrical devices, both domestic and industrial, and the wide usage of smartphones and tablets, the management of electrical energy is now easily controlled at your fingertips. Digital solutions and AI are changing the way electrical distribution is  managed.” 

To summarize, the electrical energy industry has iterated and advanced at a breakneck pace for decades, and that rate of advancement is necessary in order to sustain the electrical technology that we rely on every day. 

The transition to sustainable energy production and distribution is an ongoing process, and we reached out to Mr. Glorieux to share his expertise on the subject. 

With more than thirty years of experience in the industry, Glorieux’s work has taken him all over the world. Over the course of the last twelve years, Glorieux has focused on decarbonization solutions, including the promotion of electric vehicle charging systems and supporting energy efficiency with smarter software and business models. 

Glorieux has his finger on the pulse of electrical energy distribution, and he was able to provide us with an in-depth view of what’s happening in the industry right now and what will need to happen in the future to support sustainable power. 

Decarbonization efforts 

While many are aware of the dangers of excessive CO2 emissions, few are aware of the specifics. 

Both population growth and economic modernization have led to rapid consumption of the planet’s natural resources. 

Referring to a study from Japanese economist Yoichi Kaya published in the 1990s, Glorieux explained that the most important parameter for the reduction of CO2 emissions remains the carbon content of energy, which is CO2 emissions divided by tons of oil equivalent. 

“The earth consumes more than it can produce and regenerate naturally. This overconsumption from our societies makes greenhouse gasses a real concern. So, we are currently facing two main challenges: controlling our natural resource consumption and, at the same time, drastically reducing our gas emissions, among them CO2.” 

This is the crux of decarbonization, and for years now, Glorieux has been devoting his time and energy to reducing CO2 emissions. During his time as Managing Director for multiple corporations, he led carbon footprint reduction and monitoring efforts for factories and offices, and since 2012, he’s been working on EV charging efforts, which we’ll talk about in a moment.  

But first, we need to discuss the transition to clean energy production, which is of course of vital importance to worldwide decarbonization. 

Energy transition

You’ve no doubt heard talk of “clean energy” for quite a while now. It’s a relative term but also an important distinction. 

No form of energy production is without negative impact, but the benefit of clean energy is that it represents a great deal less negative impact than energy production methods that rely on fossil fuels. As Glorieux confirms here, transitioning to clean energy is an absolute necessity.  

“Clean energy production is a must for the future of our planet. At some point oil, coal, and even natural gas will have to be replaced by cleaner energy. Hydro, solar, and wind are clearly the best, but they also have their constraints.”

Part of Glorieux’s job is to advise various companies on ways they can reduce their carbon footprint, and this can include transitioning to clean energy. 

However, Glorieux also pointed out that there are many hurdles associated with this transition, especially when we consider the widespread adoption of clean energy production. 

For hydro energy, there simply isn’t a great deal of infrastructure to support it, at least not yet. And for both solar and wind energy, intermittent supply causes problems as well. 

These hurdles don’t mean that it isn’t worth it to further develop these production methods and transition to them, but rather it means the transition will take time, money, and effort. 

EV infrastructure 

Electric vehicles have been another major area of interest for decarbonization efforts. It’s very easy to observe that EVs have gained an enormous deal of popularity just over the last ten years, pioneered in part by hybrid vehicles. 

Currently, EVs are relatively reliable and accessible, and they’ve become quite desirable as well. Major manufacturers have put an enormous amount of resources into developing their own line of EVs, and Tesla promises to design and produce an expanded line of EVs, including lower-priced models. 

At the macro level, this is great news. There’s no denying that EVs are a more sustainable transportation solution than internal combustion vehicles. 

However, as more and more EVs hit the roadways, the need for robust EV infrastructure, specifically charging stations, increases as well. 

To put it bluntly, a lot of progress has been made on this front, but there’s still a great deal of work to be done. 

Having had his hand in this work for many years, Glorieux commented on the steep goals for EV systems in Europe. 

“By the end of 2022, the European continent had an estimated 400,000 charging stations installed. We know that Europe will need at least 3.7 million operational public charging points by 2030, mostly for passenger cars, plus an additional 29 million private charging stations!”

That’s a tremendous amount of infrastructure that needs to be put in place in less than ten years, but it is possible, and success will depend on a collective effort between governments and private companies. 

Glorieux identified several key factors to support an increased number of EVs. 

“Increasing the number of charging points to reduce range anxiety is very important, as well as the waiting time and availability at charging points. We also need faster vehicle charging speeds, ideally less than seven minutes. We also need to be able to provide affordable charging points for everyone, including EV owners living in cities.” 

And over the long term, these charging stations will need to be available both in public spaces, such as city streets and parking lots, as well as in private spaces, such as airports, homes, and privately-owned parking spaces.  

Building out and improving this infrastructure over time will make it even easier for the average person to confidently choose an EV for daily driving over an IC vehicle. On a large scale, that amounts to an impressive amount of decarbonization. 

And even so, EVs are just one component of the smart cities of the future, which brings us to our final topic. 

Smart homes & smart cities 

Another major change we’re likely to see as we try to build a sustainable future is the rise of smart homes and smart cities. But what do those terms really mean? 


“Smart homes and smart cities share the same goal: making everyone’s life easier, more cost-efficient, safe, sustainable, and comfortable.”

Tech, in the form of hardware devices and software, has helped to improve energy efficiency, and Glorieux’s specialization, electrical distribution, plays a major role in the deployment of this tech. 

“Sensors and control equipment are now embedded within the electrification system. Energy usage can then be monitored, controlled, and optimized in a very easy way and contribute to carbon footprint reduction.”

So in other words, electrical grids themselves are also becoming “smart,” which translates to reduced waste and improved efficiency.  

It’s now possible for electrical distribution to manage different sources of energy production with the help of real-time data analysis and demand response, which, for example, can allow for better management of periods of peak energy demand. 

On the whole, companies and organizations producing and distributing electricity can do so more intelligently. So while the demand for electricity on any given day is very unlikely to decrease, improved efficiencies and methods can ensure that the energy is provided with a minimal amount of waste, and therefore a reduced amount of carbon emissions.  

Leading a proper transition 

The worldwide transition to clean, sustainable energy is a multi-pronged and multi-decade effort. Toward the end of our discussion, Glorieux clarified that, on the technology side, the electrical energy industry already has many of the tools it needs to execute this transition, but there are a number of barriers and constraints that have to be considered as well. 

“Most technological solutions exist today. The difficulty is managing the ecological and energy transition in the proper way. We must accelerate on one hand, but we also need to consider the industrial capacity as well as the necessary time for the population to adopt these solutions, knowing that rapid transition always has a cost and that no one must be left behind.” 

The transition has to continue at the proper pace, without jumping ahead to rushed solutions or poor implementation. Notably, cutting-edge technology has opened even more doors when it comes to energy efficiency and decarbonization. 

The stakes are high and the schedule is tight, but Glorieux’s work is proof positive that systems and infrastructure are headed in the right direction, leading us to a future where energy producers can keep up with demand while also being kind to the environment. 

Artvoice would like to thank Mr. Glorieux for speaking with us and sharing his expertise.