A global grid, he continued, would be "jointly constructed and mutually beneficial to all." Ultimately consisting of nine latitudinal and nine longitudinal lines that would span continents and oceans, he said this "smart grid" would be "the foundation that allows the distribution of clean energy sources, optimizes utilization, and fulfills the diversified needs of end users."

Of course, such a grid would face both technological and political challenges. It also would require extensive rebuilding of existing grids. Liu explained how even in North America different systems are used between the U.S. and Mexico and the U.S. and Canada. In addition, as noted in a post-talk Q&A, a global grid would likely stir fears of energy vulnerability.

"Yes, there will be hackers," answered Liu. "There are countries that don't get along. But will the U.S. turn off the internet to Russia? No, because it's to its advantage to keep it open. When you encounter these problems you can address them."

Economics should also help sway doubters, he said. Although a global investment of $38 trillion would be necessary to create such a grid, the cost for an individual country would be closer to $390 billion, a price that would be offset by lower energy prices (by as much as 2.8 cents per kilowatt) and increased productivity, Liu said.

Listing the energy goals of the Paris climate agreement, Liu said that a global grid "would promote world peace and harmony, because we could go from competing for fossil fuel sources to being cooperative."



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