It seems like five minutes since I gratefully accepted the nomination to become President two years ago. This is partly because I’ve already had the privilege of leading the working group to review IGEM’s governance and create a new Executive Board, more of which later.
Before I go any further, I want to thank outgoing President Steve Edwards for his sterling service over the past year. Steve has enabled IGEM to engage at the highest levels across our sector and with wider stakeholders during the last 12 months. That’s something I hope to continue, with his support, during my presidency year.
This rapidly changing sector needs to modernise as we tackle the hard realities of climate change and the 2050 net zero targets. Today, the gas network provides 80 per cent of homes in the UK with the energy needed for heating, cooking and hot water. But this isn’t a sustainable position, at least not with methane.
Gas has been a fuel for 200 years and has survived several energy revolutions already. We are now on the verge of another, driven by the big ‘D’ of decarbonisation alongside the smaller ‘D’s of digitalisation and decentralisation.
The search for solutions
There’s no silver bullet for clean energy, but decentralisation and alternative gas solutions means we have options – whether they be biogas, synthetic natural gas, hydrogen or even hybrids. A route to net zero will require clarity, ambition and courage to develop a clear roadmap that will convince government gas is a valid pathway alongside widespread electrification.
The gas networks are all collaborating in this endeavour – quite rightly, as gas networks are a terrific asset in which the consumer has already invested. They have an asset value over £30 billion, delivering nearly three times the energy delivered by the electricity networks, and provide storage and flexibility options largely unavailable on an electric path to decarbonisation built around renewables.
So, in place of key themes for my year as President I have one big request; that we as individuals, companies, stakeholders and IGEM as a whole work together to develop a viable pathway that sustains the future of our sector and gets the right outcome for consumers.
Governance fit for the future
As I mentioned earlier, I’d like to talk more about the governance review and the modernising of Council. By design, the creation of an Executive Board to manage IGEM’s day to day business will free up Council to focus on you - the membership.
From now on, our Sections will come first and Council will concentrate its time and effort on supporting you in professional membership, delivering quality events and meeting our goals as a learned society. This is about nothing less than ensuring our institution is fit for the future.