Blog: why a whole-system approach is needed to solve our decarbonisation challenge

future of energy

Damien Hawke, our Director of Future Networks, explains why various options for decarbonisation need to be considered together, to maximise the benefits.

It was five months ago, in the final days of Theresa May’s government, that the UK announced its plans to build a net-zero carbon economy by 2050.

Whilst this has been a turbulent time politically, the efforts of business and the energy networks to address this challenge have continued, and I was encouraged to see the announcement from the Conservative party regarding £800m in infrastructure funding for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) solutions, a vital part of the UK’s future decarbonisation efforts.

With the urgency of climate change, we know that the energy system must radically change to enable this transition to a zero-carbon future. Various options for large-scale decarbonisation, such as electrification and hydrogen, will need to be considered together, in order to maximise the benefits of our existing infrastructure, and making best use of new solutions.

The strategically important gas and electricity networks span the UK and deliver heat and energy to the majority of people living here. If policy-makers took a whole-system approach, understanding there are elements of future energy policy that can't be delivered by electricity or gas alone, then innovative solutions delivering the level of carbon reduction we need could be found at a cost-effective price.

There is already evidence of this whole-system approach taking place at a regional level. Liverpool city region have announced ambitious plans for world-leading carbon capture technology alongside smarter, greener travel with the introduction of a hydrogen bus fleet coming early next year. The mayor has also submitted a £230m green deal proposal to government which, if supported, could deliver a £5bn economic boost to the region along with green jobs, improved air quality and cheap-to-warm homes.

In everything we do, we put customers first and we attempt to demonstrate to government how we can support its objectives regarding the environment, energy policy, fuel poverty and economic growth. As we continue to develop a collaborative approach, our hope is that future governments’ share this approach in order to deliver the net zero future we are all working towards.


Cadent is the UK’s largest gas distribution network with a 200-year legacy.  We are in a unique position to build on strong foundations whilst encouraging the curiosity to think differently and the courage to embrace change.  Day to day we continue to operate, maintain and innovate the UK’s largest gas network, transporting gas safely and protecting people in an emergency.   Our skilled engineers and specialists remain committed to the communities we serve, working day and night to ensure gas reaches 11 million homes from Cumbria to North London and the Welsh Borders to East Anglia, to keep your energy flowing. 

Future of Gas: Here at Cadent we support the Government’s plans to reach Net Zero by 2050. That means we’re backing the introduction of hydrogen as a low carbon alternative to natural gas for the future. We know people love the controllability of gas and, with our network already in place, it makes sense to switch to the lower carbon alternative offered by hydrogen, which we believe can keep homes and businesses warm for generations to come.

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Media contacts

Kevin Hegarty

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