KUALA LUMPUR: Imagine if there is no electricity on earth, no lights, and all electrical appliances, computers and machines at homes, offices, hospitals and other buildings are not working.
Trains cease to move, ships become stationary in the water and aircraft fall from the sky and crash. It would just be like the American post-apocalyptic science fiction television series, "Revolution", where people were forced to adapt to a world without electricity for 15 years.
Although the sci-fi drama is not likely to become a reality, the world may experience electricity supply problems if the transmission is not efficient enough to meet the rapid growth of global demand for energy.
According to the United Nations, global energy demand will grow by more than one-third between now and 2035, while the population is growing at 26 per cent between 2010 and 2035, reaching 8.7 billion people.
Most people still remember the four-day blackout that affected 50 million people in the United States and Canada in 2003, which resulted in about US$8 billion (RM26.3 billion) losses.
Meanwhile, last year's blackouts in India were the largest in history. The blackouts, which spread across 22 states, affected more than 620 million people in the country.
Increasing energy demand and the growing population pose various challenges to utility companies to ensure an efficient electricity supply and to prevent blackouts.
They have to update grid infrastructure built some 50 years ago and connect them to neighbouring countries or states.
If the 20th century saw abundant supply of fossil fuels, such as petroleum, coal and natural gas, today, the energy landscape has become more complex, where new energies are being harnessed, such as offshore winds, solar and tidal.
However, such energies are intermittent and difficult to store, and utility firms need to make transmission networks more efficient and connect the energies to the grid.
This is where Alstom Grid, a division of ?21 billion (RM92.2 billion) French multinational group with interests in the power generation and transport markets, comes in.
According to Alstom officials, the company has pioneered two major advances in direct current and high voltage direct current (HVDC) technologies.
With the recent developments in HVDC, Alstom Grid can transport bulk power over long distances with less equipment and lower losses, while reducing visual and ecological impact.
They said the group's technologies and equipment allow the supply of electricity from offshore wind farms, solar park or dams to remote population centres.
In a series of briefings to the media at Stafford, England, recently, the officials said Alstom Grid's HVDC technologies can link asynchronous networks (different voltages and frequencies), making sharing and trading of energy possible and creating regional and international electricity networks.
Alstom Grid president GregoirePoux-Guillaume said the company's Centre of Excellence in Stafford is pivotal in creating the "Supergrid", or energy highways.
Supergrid is the interconnection of vast power networks that enables the transfer of new energies, like offshore wind or solar, from one part of the continent to another and the sharing of reserves between neighbouring countries.
At the excellence centre, located at Shakespeare's birthplace, some 1,400 Alstom Grid employees research, develop and manufacture the high voltage transmission equipment for interconnections across multiple grids around the world.
The company's HVDC MaxShine manufacturing facility and the world's first power electronics voltage source converters demonstrator are also situated at this site.
The HVDC market, worth between ?3 billion and ?5 billion a year, is projected to grow to ?50 billion in the next 10 years, with the Americas, China, India and Europe offering the greatest potential.
Alstom Grid, one of the three world players of this technology, is targeting a 20 per cent share of the HVDC market.
As Poux-Guillaume puts it, "We are lighting up the Supergrid revolution."
Last year, to prevent potential faults from increased load during the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Alstom Grid upgraded the two 2,000-megawatt (MW) oldest and highest-rated HVDC submarine connection between France and the United Kingdom with new valve halls.
Its technologies and equipment also allow Denmark to draw more electricity from the European continent and transmit it to Sweden.
The group's HDVC technology has been used worldwide, including the 660 kilovolts (kV) interconnection between Ningdong and Shandong in China; the Rio Madeira project in Brazil, which is the world's longest HVDC energy system; and, a turnkey ultra-HVDC solution for an 800kV link in Champa, India.
Alstom Grid's latest project will be the Dolwin3 in Germany, where the company was awarded its first HVDC offshore wind farm project by TenneT Offshore GmbH in March this year.
In 2017, Alstom Grid will finish connecting 900MW of renewable wind energy from the wind farm, located in the North Sea, to Germany's mainland electricity grid, in line with the country's programme to be nuclear-free in the next decade.