Thierry Brincourt, all out for electric!

Thierry Brincourt has been supporting the incredible emergence of electric vehicles for more than ten years. Both witness and participant in this revolution, this highly enthusiastic engineer is ready to take on the many new challenges that await him!

Tell us about your career path

I joined EDF - R&D in 1993. After working for 5 years on laying underground cables, and 4 years on fuel cells, I joined the “energy storage” team at the Les Renardières site in 2003. The main theme at the time was exploring new battery technologies. Progress was such that EDF decided to return to the subject of electric vehicles. In the 1990s, nearly 15,000 electric cars were already on the road in France, but their penetration was limited due to the poor performance of the nickel-cadmium batteries. For about ten years, we therefore supported the renewal of the electric vehicle through partnerships with Toyota, Renault and BMW, initiated by EDF’s Electric Mobility Division. We were very involved in the development of connected charging infrastructure, which did not exist before 2010, and tested numerous vehicles. It was an exciting period during which the technology matured and the progress of batteries was staggering. It was also at this time that we developed or tested the first supervised charging infrastructure. It became possible to identify vehicles or users to authorise charging, and to remotely monitor the operating state and consumption. This highly innovative activity allowed our subsidiary SODETREL, now IZIVIA, to become French leader in the deployment of supervised charging infrastructure services.

What about today?

Since 2013, the electric vehicle has entered a more commercial phase. We have therefore moved on to new subjects. In particular, we contributed to the emergence of Corri-Door, a network of 200 rapid chargers that has been deployed by EDF and SODETREL in France. It covers a network of major highways and suburban roads and allows charging at 50 kW. We are still contributing to feedback on this network. Many topics keep us busy on a daily basis, such as charging in joint-ownership properties. This is an important subject for EDF, as many people live in properties with underground car parks, where it is difficult to charge your vehicle. So there are always challenges, as much in terms of solutions as technical and commercial offers. Finally, we are working on more futuristic topics such as ultra-fast charging. Because soon, we will be charging our vehicles at 150 or even 350 kW rather than 50!

Is your profession a passion for you?

Oui ! Mon père était un physicien et mon grand-père me ventait le métier d’ingénieur. On échangeait très souvent sur les sciences et les technologies, et cela m’a donné envie. J’ai en quelque sorte réalisé mon rêve d’enfant ! Je suis un technicien dans l’âme. Si je suis resté toutes ces années chez EDF – R&D, c’est justement que j’ai pu y conserver une activité très technique. Nos activités sont extrêmement variées et il y a largement de quoi satisfaire un ingénieur généraliste et maintenir la curiosité et l’envie d’innover. Dans le même temps et grâce à mes collègues, j’ai intégré dans les projets que je pilotais d’autres champs disciplinaires, comme l’analyse environnementale ou la sociologie. Cette approche combinée est d’ailleurs très appréciée par nos clients.

“An exciting period during which the technology matured and the progress of batteries was staggering”