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Worldwide electricity consumption is increasing 2.4% annually, with Asia increasing by 3.7%. However, there are still 1.6 billion people in the world without electricity, and this could reach 2 billion by 2020. For decades, there has been heated discussion about the cheapest, most efficient and safest way of producing electricity. In the wake of blackouts, there is also growing concern about transmission and distribution. Infrastructure reliability and grid interconnectability are now seen as the keys to a sustainable supply of electrical power.
Developing nations are rapidly "electrifying", while developed ones are integrating their networks, often continentally. The fuel of choice has been shifting from coal and oil to cleaner burning natural gas. Massive windfarms are underway, hydro electricity is expanding, and nuclear sites are being upgraded. All players want to secure sources of supply, improve reliability and efficiency, and assure environmental protection.