Asia's Tangled Power Lines

Ensure Energy Security by Building a Smarter Grid

A worker fixes power lines in Paranaque, Philippines. Erik de Castro / Courtesy Reuters

With the economies European Union and United States flagging, emerging nations are now the primary drivers of incremental global economic growth. As they have started to boom, world energy demand has increased. In 2011, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated that demand would climb by an astounding one-third by 2035, with China, India, and other Asian countries accounting for two-thirds of the rise.

Asian demand (even if it starts to slow) is turning the world's old energy paradigm on its head. The IEA model, which was established as a reaction to the 1973-74 energy crisis, focused on getting sufficient petroleum supplies to developed economies. But that approach is no longer adequate. Whereas developed countries are seeking to reduce petroleum imports through increased domestic energy production and improved efficiency, Asian economies are importing more. In fact, by 2020, China will become the world's largest petroleum importer.

In the meantime, rising political instability in the

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