IFSTTAR brings its systems approach to the competitiveness clusters

Science topics November 2013 EnergyMaterials and structures

In the area of the energy transition, IFSTTAR’s researchers take part in the reflections and projects of several competitiveness clusters, with regard to transportation, buildings or the city. They not only contribute their technological expertise, but also their socioeconomic expertise – which is fundamental, even though it is not frequently mentioned in calls for projects.

IFSTTAR is involved in the competitiveness clusters either through their governance bodies or their research projects. « As far as the energy transition is concerned, we are working on transportation as well as buildings and the city », explains Philippe Dupuy, a delegate attached to the General Directorate for links with the wider economy. « We help to overcome technological barriers, but we also provide a systems vision in order to model and evaluate innovative solutions, including new public policies, by taking account of socioeconomic aspects. »


Some thirty IFSTTAR researchers, all experts in their respective fields, are taking part in research projects  that are linked to the energy transition in transportation, in the Mov’eo cluster in Normandy and Île-de-France or the LUTB cluster in the Rhône-Alpes region. This work mainly involves energy modelling, and the batteries and power electronics for zero carbon vehicles. A few researchers are also working on fuel cells with the “Vehicle of the Future” cluster,in Alsace Franche-Comté. With regard to the energy transition in cities and for buildings, the Institute is working mainly with the Advancity cluster cluster, which is based in Île-de-France. IFSTTAR is involved, in particular, with a large-scale project known as Efficacity, whose goal is to reduce the energy consumption of a city by 20% between now and 2020. IFSTTAR researchers are working with 35 partners from the public and private sectors on energy management in buildings using sensors installed on a technology testing platform.

« We are also very involved in the Transpolis project which is run by the LUTB cluster, adds Philippe Dupuy. One of its goals in the next two years is to design a "city of the future" near Lyon. This will be a site for full-scale trials with streets and walls etc. Where we will be able to test various energy solutions in real use on buses and trucks. Examples include induction charging or more classical types of transition using vehicle natural gas (VNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and, ultimately, fuel cells. »


« In the area of energy transition we must constantly bear socioeconomic aspects in mind », explains Philippe Dupuy. « Unfortunately, it is often difficult to assert this systems approach in calls for tender. It is nevertheless fundamental, and often holds the key to the success or failure of radical technologies. If we take the example of electric vehicles (either for a given fleet or on a large scale), their success depends mainly on acceptability, public policies and the viability of the economic models.»