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Blowing the market wide open – KONGSBERG

KONGSBERG has the wind at its back. Geir Håøy, CEO, explains how renewable energy will power the group’s ambitious growth plans, with particular focus on consolidating a leading global position in offshore wind. With Nor-Shipping 2023 on the horizon, Håøy says #PartnerShip will help unlock value and drive development throughout the ocean space.

Geir Håøy isn’t the kind of CEO that suffers from over-enthusiastic language and grandiose promises. Instead, he speaks with a calm-headed clarity that is, appropriately enough for a man at the helm of a global technology group with 12,000 staff, extremely ‘business-like’.

As such, when he refers to the group’s 2022 results, which revealed a record order backlog of NOK 63.5 billion, an order intake of NOK 45.15 billion and a 15.9% year-on-year climb in operating revenues, he uses the word “good”.

Not “fantastic”, not “incredible”, but good.

It’s an understated approach that communicates a sense of ‘solidity’, or trust.

In other words, he’s not selling, he’s telling.

Doubling up

Therefore, as he outlines KONGSBERG’s plans for the renewable energy sector, with particular reference to offshore wind, it’s clear he means exactly what he says.

And what he says screams opportunity.

“The market for our solutions is growing here,” Håøy states. “In 2022 we signed orders for around NOK 1.7 billion relating to the offshore wind market. But this is just the start. Our goal now is to grow that to achieve double-digit (NOK billion) group income from offshore wind and the renewables segment by 2030.

“We have the technology, solutions and ambition to enable a fast, safe and sustainable scale-up of renewable energy offshore. This is critical for the future – both our own, and that of our partners and customers worldwide.”

Everything everywhere all at once

KONGSBERG, Håøy argues, is uniquely placed to benefit from, and support, the forecasted explosion in offshore wind activity in the years to come (DNV’s 2022 Energy Transition Outlook report stated the segment could grow “56-fold” between now and 2050). Grounded in over half a century of offshore energy experience, he says the group already has a portfolio “spanning the renewables value chain” to help customers seize on opportunity. This includes solutions stretching from outer space, with satellite technology, to the deep sea, with hydroacoustic and subsea mapping innovations, while all periods of windfarm operational lifecycles are catered for, from surveying and turbine installation through to maintenance, life extension and decommissioning.

Huge opportunity – KONGSBERG sees major growth ahead in renewable offshore energy

“We’ve been involved in the industry from day one,” Håøy notes, “and that helps us to understand, and influence, its evolution, while tailoring our offering in line with the very latest needs.

“You can see that in the new generation of vessel orders we’ve achieved success with.”

Leveraging expertise

The KONGSBERG chief says that any hope of realising the industry’s growth ambitions rests on an ability to install and service huge numbers of turbines (of ever-increasing sizes) as cost- and operationally-efficiently as possible. That requires large, and technologically advanced, vessels, capable of maximising operational weather windows in demanding offshore environments.

“That’s where we’re perfectly positioned to help,” Håøy comments, pointing to a selection of orders that provide a neat snapshot of the latest industry developments.

For example, KONGSBERG has been selected to supply technology and engineering for Cadeler’s newbuild F-class wind turbine and foundation installation vessels. These two giant jack-up ships will be amongst the world’s largest specialist offshore wind vessels, with the capacity to transport and install seven 15-MW turbine sets per load, minimizing the number of voyages per project. KONGSBERG’s remit includes a thruster package, electrical solutions and integrated controls, including dynamic positioning, and an array of cutting-edge digital tools.

Similar contracts have also recently been secured with Integrated Wind Solutions (delivering equipment packages to newbuild Commissioning Service Operation Vessels, CSOVs), Sembcorp (technology for a Wind Turbine Installation Vessel) and Pelagic Wind Services (a NOK 300million contract including the design of a UT 5519 HL CSOV, a complete hybrid propulsion system and a comprehensive equipment package).

“We’re leveraging existing experience with offshore oil and gas, while innovating for a new age of maritime wind power,” Håøy stresses, adding; “We see it as a natural evolution for a company that has built its reputation on being an ocean space expert.”

Renewable drive

For many, KONGSBERG’s primary reputation is inextricably linked to either vessel deliveries (and especially pioneering dynamic positioning) or the world of defence (where the need for security in a changing geopolitical landscape is also driving current growth).

But, as previously alluded to, the group’s offering is far, far broader, ranging from autonomous underwater vehicles (the HUGIN), through to environmental mapping and monitoring, digital solutions for more efficient industrial processes (e.g. advanced digital twins) and energy management systems.

These, Håøy says, have an important role to play for both the group’s growth and the industry’s transition – a belief underpinning the launch of a new entity last year; Kongsberg Renewable Technologies.

Foundation for the future

Håøy describes this as “sitting alongside” the existing divisions to help facilitate the envisaged double-digit renewable growth. It will, he notes, provide “focus” for a range of solutions that is already available throughout the group, while cementing a strong foundation for future developments and innovation.

“The existing group structure is aligned with specialist domain expertise,” Håøy notes. “What Kongsberg Renewables Technologies allows us to do is to bring together solutions from across the business that can help with the support, scaling-up and roll-out of renewable energy.

“There’s a market demand for our expertise and solutions – and we’re seeing that more and more in offshore wind, and especially floating offshore wind, where we see huge potential. So, it makes sense to strengthen what we have, while also providing the platform for new developments, alliances and acquisitions.”

He continues: “Strategically we see this as a very important step. We always work closely with our customers and we believe this will help us, and them, unlock new opportunities in solid partnerships. We want to grow together.”

Nor-Shipping 2023, taking place 6-9 June in Oslo and Lillestrøm, looks set to be an important platform for taking this message to the market.

Long-term vision

KONGSBERG has taken the position of Leading Partner for this year’s exhibition and event programme. Håøy indicates the group will use this “local” opportunity to consolidate its leading position within maritime technology and innovation, while also communicating its growing role within enabling sustainable ocean business and energy success.

“Norway is obviously a key market for us in terms of maritime, energy and developing offshore wind, and we want to demonstrate our support. But, more than that, this is an arena where decision makers from across the world gather to connect, share knowledge and do business,” he says. “Our ambitions, with wind and the ocean space in general, are global, so Nor-Shipping, which brings the industry world together in one location, is ideal.”

Long-term goals – KONGSBERG works with partners, such as Havila Kystruten, to build long-lasting relationships

The fact that the theme for the event week is #PartnerShip is also helpful, he adds, sitting perfectly with the way KONGSBERG likes to do business.

“We value long-term relationships in every part of our business,” Håøy states. “And now, with the need for industry to transition – and, in the case of floating offshore wind, build entirely new segments and domain expertise – the need to work together, and do so efficiently, is greater than ever. Partnerships are critically important, so it’ll be interesting to see how Nor-Shipping can translate that across its events and exhibition halls.”

Trusted for tomorrow

Returning to wind and renewables to conclude, Håøy repeats the global nature of his vision as the group looks ahead to that double digit growth in 2030.

“We want to be a key partner in enabling this industry internationally,” he stresses. “Norway and Northern Europe may be seen as our ‘home market’ in a sense, with the North Sea almost working as a laboratory/testing ground for innovations, but that’s the foundation rather than the whole. We’re always looking to build from there. We see huge potential in Asia and in the US to accelerate growth.”

So, the 2030 plan looks feasible then? The double digits are not a digit too far?

Håøy smiles, departing with one last example of ‘telling not selling’:

“Well, we wouldn’t have said it if we didn’t think we could achieve it.”

A solid way to wrap things up.