Decarbonising the UK’s energy networks


Cadent is the UK’s largest gas distribution network, supplying gas to 11 million homes and businesses across the North West, West Midlands, East Midlands, South Yorkshire, East of England, and North London1.

Since leading a consortium of investors to acquire the business in 2017, Macquarie Asset Management has partnered with Cadent and its workforce in their journey to help deliver the UK’s net zero ambition.

Cadent has invested around £3 billion towards upgrading its network since the Macquarie-led consortium acquired the company in 2017.

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Sector Infrastructure
Sub-sector Utilities
Invested 2017 - present
Cadent is supporting the UK to achieve its net zero ambition

Addressing the causes of climate change

Recognising the current and future challenges posed by climate change to our environment and way of life, the UK Government in 2019 became the world’s first major economy to legislate that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to net zero by 20502. Achieving this ambitious goal will require a transformation of the economy and society, with greener energy needed to power the UK’s continued development.

With more than one third of emissions in the UK originating from the provision of heat to homes and businesses, it is essential that energy networks play a leading role in decarbonising the economy3. However, this major transition must be delivered in a way which minimises disruption and cost to consumers, whilst maximising flexibility in the energy system over the long-term.

Cadent has embraced this opportunity, exploring the potential to increase the role for greener low-carbon gases including biomethane and hydrogen in the UK’s energy mix through innovative trials across its more than 131,000-kilometre gas pipe network. This important work, supported by Macquarie Asset Management and its co-investors, is seeking to deliver a more sustainable energy supply for the millions of customers that rely on Cadent’s network each day. 

Supporting innovation

“Tackling climate change is presenting major challenges and opportunities across the energy sector. We are delighted to be working alongside Cadent at the forefront of the energy transition – supporting investment in innovation to demonstrate how the UK’s gas networks can be decarbonised over time.”

Mark Braithwaite, Senior Managing Director

Cadent is focused on minimising cost and disruption to consumers

Partnering across industries

Cadent is fostering collaboration across the energy value chain to shape the future of gas, having led the UK’s first ever live demonstrations of a hydrogen blend in homes.

Cadent’s HyDeploy project, in conjunction with Keele University, successfully demonstrated how hydrogen can be safely blended up to 20 per cent volume with natural gas, utilising existing infrastructure as well as home cooking and heating appliances. In addition, Cadent has partnered with its peers to build the UK’s first hydrogen homes which feature boilers, hobs, and cookers fed by 100 per cent hydrogen4.

On an industrial level, Cadent is supporting the creation of the world’s first hydrogen industrial cluster in the North West of England through HyNet5. This ground-breaking project aims to reduce carbon emissions from industry, homes, and transport, whilst supporting economic growth in the region. HyNet is made up of several different elements, including upgrades to existing facilities, as well as the development of new hydrogen pipelines and carbon capture technologies.

In addition to Cadent’s exploration of a hydrogen economy, the UK’s largest gas network has also initiated a long-term investment programme to upgrade its network infrastructure. The initiative will see cast iron mains across its network, many of which were installed in the Victorian era, replaced with plastic pipes which will be more durable to carry a wider range of gases, including 100 per cent hydrogen in the future.

Cadent has invested around £3 billion towards upgrading its network since the Macquarie-led consortium acquired the company in 2017.

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All information current as at August 2021 unless otherwise stated.

1 Based on network size

2 UK Government, 2019

3 UK Government, 2018

Cadent, 2021

Cadent, 2021