Nor-Shipping 2022 Thought Leader interview: Geir Håøy, CEO, KONGSBERG

Kongsberg CEO Geir Håøy is focused on harnessing the diverse technology, skills and knowledge of the group to play a crucial role in supporting industry’s energy transition. Here he explains, ahead of Nor-Shipping 2022, how the firm can deliver a full spectrum of lifecycle support in the drive for a more sustainable tomorrow.

Sustainability: from outer space to the ocean space

Kongsberg CEO Geir Håøy is focused on harnessing the diverse technology, skills and knowledge of the group to play a crucial role in supporting industry’s energy transition. Here he explains, ahead of Nor-Shipping 2022, how the firm can deliver a full spectrum of lifecycle support in the drive for a more sustainable tomorrow.

Geir Håøy launches into space. We’ve come to talk about the sea, but the Kongsberg CEO already has his heads way above the clouds.

“Through Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) we are the world leader in downloading satellite data, with around 200 dedicated ground stations worldwide,” he states. “With the growing number of satellites, driven by an explosion in microsatellites, that gives us the ability to handle and utilise massive amounts of data. That can be critical for environmental monitoring and protection, but also for understanding when it comes to, for example, analysing weather data for renewables.”

He smiles, spreading his hands to make a point: “From our position up there, we can understand what’s happening down here. And with our technology and control systems we can help assets, like offshore wind infrastructure and support vessels, optimise performance and efficiency. That is, in short, the high-level view.”

Quite literally it seems.

It’s also a neat summary of the breadth of Håøy’s, and Kongsberg’s, vision. They don’t just want to provide a solution here and there – they want to deliver ‘joined-up’, long-term support and benefits: for customers, for industry, for society.

They want to be your new sustainability partner.

Added value approach

Kongsberg is what’s known as a diversified technology group. With separate business divisions for Defence & Aerospace, Maritime, and Digital, the firm has competence and innovations spanning from the depths of the ocean to the surface, sky, and beyond. That gives the Norwegian-headquartered, global business the unique position of operational expertise and understanding of, for example, water columns, tidal patterns, weather systems and how to build technology tailored to perform within them.

Håøy wants to bring all that ability together in a connected way to maximise its impact, and value.

Here, he returns to a key growth sector, offshore wind.

Kongsberg has won the task of providing integrated systems for all 19 of the offshore wind vessels contracted so far in 2021 (at the time of writing). That includes, in the last quarter alone, contracts linked to two new wind turbine installation vessels for Cadeler and the delivery of propulsion systems for installation vessels to be built at VARD.

While Håøy is clearly pleased to take such a strong position in a booming market, he’s not ‘satisfied’ as such, noting:

“It’s great to lead on the vessel infrastructure, but we want so much more than that.”

Lifecycle opportunity

He continues: “Our technology and competence can be crucial right through the value chain for those owning, operating and maintaining offshore wind constellations.

“For example, we can use our subsea expertise for exploration, surveying and installation, our vessel innovations to support O&M, our satellite technology and systems for monitoring, and so on, and so on, right through to decommissioning. We are here to support, assist and enable across the whole scope of the lifecycle… and I believe that’s where true value can be realised.”

Håøy sees huge growth ahead in renewables in particular, but the maritime and digital divisions are performing strongly in their own right (Maritime saw “continued improvement” in the latest financial report, while Kongsberg Digital, KDI, increased its operating revenues to NOK 221 million, compared to NOK 185 million in Q3 2020). Again, much of the business is linked to sustainability – with control systems and battery solutions to drive down emissions in maritime, and Vessel Insight and Kognitwin (digital twin) to drive better understanding and environmental performance on the digital side.

“We can really help our customers take action and move towards their environmental targets, and that’s an important role for us to take” he says. “We definitely see the transition as an opportunity, rather than just a challenge.”

Supplying ambition

However, Håøy is keen to challenge others on their commitments to sustainability. September saw the group sign up to the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi), an international coalition of UN agencies, businesses and industry leaders focused on adapting their organisations to set net-zero science-based targets in line with a 1.5°C future. Kongsberg is now in a process of formalising its targets and planning the concrete ways it can reduce its own carbon footprint.

One of those, Håøy reveals, is to get suppliers to reduce theirs.

“We’ve don’t have a huge carbon footprint ourselves,” he says, “but we do have a large group of suppliers and partners. Collectively our footprint is significant. So, we’ve asked those businesses to step into line with our ambition and commit to the SBTi too. Within the next two years we want two thirds of our suppliers, by spend, to have done so.

“Together, that makes a big difference.”

Nor-Shipping in 5,4,3,2,1

The word ‘together’ brings him onto Nor-Shipping 2022, taking place 10-13 January in Lillestrøm and Oslo, Norway.

Kongsberg is a Leading Partner of ‘Your Arena for Ocean Solutions’ and, after the disruption of the global pandemic, Håøy and his team are eager to “get back to business” and meet up with the global ocean and maritime industry community once again.

“We’re talking about rising to the sustainability challenge here and, as we’re showing with our supplier initiative, you can’t do that individually… we have to work together,” he says.

“That’s why I think this Nor-Shipping will be such an important one. COP26 has shown how much work we have to do and that it really is time to take positive #ACTION, which is Nor-Shipping’s main theme.

“We can help enable this through our technology and expertise and, when that’s combined with other actors’ ambitions, competence and solutions then the benefits and value unlocked are multiplied. That’s a really exciting prospect. So I think – and hope – Nor-Shipping finally bringing people together again can be a great platform for accelerating development.”

Kongsberg, he concludes, will be there in force to showcase its innovations and ambition from the sea floor to outer space. Those targeting sustainability should blast off with Håøy and crew for a chat.

The countdown begins…

 

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