Jun 2024

IGEM hosts gas sector engagement event for ESO


The Institution of Gas Engineers & Managers (IGEM) was delighted to host an engagement event, which brought together representatives of the ESO (the electricity system operator for Great Britain) and the gas sector. The focus was on sharing insights about the current gas system and exploring the role of green gases in the journey towards a decarbonised energy system.

This summer, ESO will transition to become the new National Energy System Operator (NESO), an independent, public corporation responsible for planning Britain’s electricity and gas networks and operating the electricity system. Its new role will include a whole system perspective across energy vectors and deliver national and regional energy planning that bring electricity, gas and hydrogen plans together to efficiently deliver net zero.

IGEM put together an informative and exciting itinerary of discussion and site visits in the North of England, with the support of key stakeholders including Cadent, National Gas, Northern Gas Networks (NGN), SGN, Wales & West Utilities and DNV.

The event involved a roundtable dinner, with introductions from IGEM CEO, Oliver Lancaster and Julian Leslie, Director of Strategic Energy Planning and Chief Engineer at ESO, followed by rich discussion across a range of key themes including gas and electricity systems integration, regional and local transformations, and topics such as demand sectors, skills development and regulation.

The roundtable evening was followed by a fascinating day of site visits. Firstly, to DNV Spadeadam where delegates heard presentations on DNV’s 2024 Energy Outlook report, National Gas’s Project Union and FutureGrid projects and SGN’s LTS Futures and H100 projects.

After a valuable Q&A session, delegates were treated to a tour of the site and testing facilities, where they saw repurposed gas transmission and distribution assets for hydrogen with pressure reduction right down to domestic buildings, which included FutureGrid, LTS Futures and H21 projects.  


The second half of the day involved a visit to Northern Gas Networks’ Low Thornley research site, and for a lucky few, the opportunity to travel there in a hydrogen car.

Delegates heard presentations on Northern Gas Network’s Net Zero Ecosystem Research Village (NERV), Cadent’s recent Future of the Gas Network report and Wales & West Utilities’ Pathfinder modelling and work supporting Local Area Energy Plans (LAEPs).

Speaking about the event, IGEM CEO, Oliver Lancaster, said:

“We’d like to thank ESO for engaging with the gas sector. An event like this provides the opportunity to showcase gas sector innovation and have really meaningful discussions on the opportunities and challenges of whole energy system integration. We know that the gas networks can play a valuable role in providing storage, flexibility and supply of molecular energy to meet demand across industry, power generation, buildings and transport, alongside the opportunities brought by electrification.

Being able to demonstrate the gas sector’s potential, through network collaboration, R&D and the sharing of evidence and insights, is vital for effective whole energy system planning at national, regional and local levels. We hope to build on this relationship with ESO, in its transition to becoming NESO, and continue to explore topics such as the role of natural gas, biomethane and hydrogen in our transitionary and future net zero energy system.”

Speaking about the event, Julian Leslie Director of Strategic Energy Planning and Chief Engineer at ESO said:

“We're grateful to IGEM for facilitating this opportunity to engage with leaders in the gas sector and bringing to life the industry plans for decarbonising gas. It provided a valuable platform for dialogue and to explore the role of green gases in our journey towards a decarbonised power system.

Recognising the importance of a whole system approach, we're committed to driving forward net zero across both the electricity and gas systems, while maintaining energy security and minimising costs for consumers. This event highlighted the importance of collaboration and the sharing of insights for strategic energy system planning at all levels. Looking ahead, we're keen to strengthen our relationship with the gas industry and delve into how hydrogen, biomethane, and natural gas can play pivotal roles in our transition to a net zero future”.