Nov 2023

Ensuring the safety, security and sustainability of our gas network today and tomorrow

On Thursday, 9 November, Nottingham's East Midlands Conference Centre played host to IGEM’s Annual Conference, which focused on the fundamental trilemma of the energy transition: safety, reliability, and the path towards a sustainable future.

Andy Musgrave.jpg

IGEM President Andrew Musgrave began the event by noting that while the future of the gas network is a key topic, it’s crucial to “keep our eyes on the ball” and focus on the industry's current state. “Safe and secure sit together hand in hand,” said Andrew. “Maintaining the network at the right pressure means all the people who rely on the gas network today can go about their work without having to worry about what we do.”

Keynote speaker Mark Wild, CEO of SGN, spoke passionately about the gas sector’s unique capacity for revolution as one of the few industries to have undergone a genuine, large-scale transformation in its lifetime.

Mark Wild and Andy Musgrave

He directly challenged the recent National Infrastructure Commission report’s findings, defending the gas industry’s potential and denouncing the claim that electrification could entirely replace the UK’s energy infrastructure. He reminded the audience of an often-overlooked reality: on days devoid of wind and sunshine, 60-70 per cent of the nation’s electricity is still driven by gas. This, he argued, underscored the indispensable role that gas plays in the UK’s energy mix.

The themes of transformation and adaptability came up several times over the course of the day, which saw speakers from across government, academia and business come together to discuss the present state of our gas system and its potential role in a net zero future.

The increased role that gas – in particular LNG – has to play in the UK’s energy security strategy was also a common subject of conversation.

And the need for a workforce which is prepared for the challenges of a low carbon economy was highlighted by a number of speakers throughout the day.

Sarah Williams

The final speaker of the day, Sarah Williams, Director of Regulation, Asset Strategy & HS&E at Wales & West Utilities, summed up the extent of the challenge in her presentation.  “All of this is doable,” she said, “but we need you.

A full write up will be included in the December/January edition of Gas International (Gi).

You can view the full photoset of the event here.

IGEM would like to thank our speakers, exhibitors and event sponsors: Cadent, National Gas, Northern Gas Networks, SGN and Wales & West Utilities.