Blog: Utility Week Congress 2019


Last week, I was delighted to address the Utility Week Congress in Birmingham, and to talk about how we run and maintain a resilient national critical infrastructure.
When we talk about national critical infrastructure, many people forget about the gas network, and how vital it is to our everyday lives. Not only is the gas network essential for millions of people to heat their homes and cook, but it is relied on by many of the UK’s largest industries to produce the heat they need. Furthermore, the gas network is essential to so many other national services – including our hospitals and schools – and the people that they serve .
Running and maintaining this national critical infrastructure brings its own unique challenges. Many parts of our gas network are over 100 years old. The streetscape above many of these pipes has changed beyond recognition since they were installed, and we have even had to move rivers to keep them safe. Even the materials used differ greatly – our teams are constantly replacing old metal pipes, or wood or asbestos pipes, with modern plastic pipes that are fit for the future.
However, it is just not our network that we have to respond to – we also have to meet our customers’ needs and expectations. Our network must be safe and secure for the communities we serve, and be able to support peak demand and one-off events, such as ‘the Beast from the East’. Customers also expect the least possible disruption. Our network must deliver at low cost for the consumer, and we have to consider all of our customers, including those in fuel poverty.
At the same time, we are looking to the future and making sure that the gas network will deliver on customers' needs and expectations for years to come. Our day-to-day work, looking at securing our IT systems, monitoring our pipes and responding to emergencies, is all ensuring that this national critical infrastructure is fit for the future, while our gas mains replacement programme is ensuring that our network can transport greener gases. We are promoting innovative ways of working, for instance using robotic technology to minimise disruption from roadworks. Finally, we are looking carefully at the future role of gas – helping to get more biogas onto our network, and leading the way in demonstrating the crucial role hydrogen will play in the future.


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.

Cadent manages the national gas emergency service free phone line on behalf of the gas industry - 0800 111 999*

Cadent Gas Ltd is owned by a consortium of global investors.

*All calls are recorded and may be monitored.