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A wide-ranging and thorough overhaul of the world's power grids is underway and gaining momentum. According to estimates, global spending on smart grid projects will approach US$36 billion by 2013, and worldwide investment will reach a total of US$600 billion by 2020 . China alone is planning to spend US$96 billion in the next decade, while the United States has recently committed US$4.5 billion . These are extraordinary sums of money but far from inappropriate for a project that could turn out to be one of the greatest engineering achievements of the 21st century .