Smart cities in France

The latest installment of the blog series based on our smart cities in Europe, enabling innovation report takes a look at the findings on smart cities in France. France has been very slow to implement
smart city initiatives.

According to research conducted by the European Parliament, under half of French cities with a population over 100,000 have at least one smart city initiative, putting it behind many other European countries, including the UK, Spain, Italy, Austria and the Nordic countries.*

The only area where France does seem to be getting its act together is smart meters. Électricité Réseau Distribution France, which operates 95% of France’s electricity distribution network, plans to install 3 million smart meters during 2015 and 2016 and a total of 35 million smart meters, representing a 95% market penetration, by the end of 2020. The roll-out will cost an estimated €5 billion. Some 300,000 smart meters have already been installed in pilot projects in Lyon and Tours.

However, there remains uncertainty as to whether this target will be achieved. In August 2014 France’s energy regulator, Commission de Régulation de l’Énergie (CRE), announced that the plan is too ambitious and should be scaled back to a penetration rate of 90% by the end of 2020. Survey respondents are equally sceptical – 64% of French survey respondents do not believe the country will hit its target of installing 35 million smart meters by the end of 2020.

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Despite the early stage of the roll-out, survey respondents believe French energy consumers understand and are convinced by the benefits of smart meters (48% of respondents). This is more than in the other European countries we surveyed aside from
Italy. In contrast, France fares less well when it comes to intelligent transport systems – only 38% of French survey respondents believe that the roll-out of intelligent transport systems is a priority for France’s transport authorities, the second lowest proportion among all surveyed countries.

One French city that is implementing smart initiatives is Lyon. The city’s ‘Greater Lyon Smart City’ plan focuses on identifying new technological, urban, social and environmental solutions to improve city life. At the beginning of 2014, around 40 smart city projects were being rolled out or planned in Greater Lyon. Each project falls into one of four primary themes – ‘new mobilities’, ‘digital services’, ‘smart grids’ and ‘innovation & initiatives’.

More smart cities information

Download the full smart cities in Europe report here.

*European Parliament Policy Department (January 2014), “Mapping Smart Cities in the EU”

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