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Powering profitable sustainability

Mikael Norin is on a mission. Here the CEO of Cavotec, the cleantech and electrification pioneer, outlines how proven technology can drive an industrial transition that’s not only good for the environment, but also positive for pockets.

Norin, speaking ahead of Cavotec’s appearance at Nor-Shipping 2022, says we need to wake up to possibilities today, rather than waiting for developments tomorrow.

“I could talk about this non-stop, for hours,” laughs Mikael Norin as he pauses for breath.

The conversation with the Cavotec CEO is only minutes old, but the native Swede, now based at the firm’s HQ in Lugano, Switzerland, has already touched on electric ferries, port electrification, a post-pandemic environmental focus, container ships, the cruise segment, and the public health benefits of automated mooring and shore power.

His enthusiasm for electrification solutions is infectious, his conviction utterly heartfelt. Energetic, articulate and passionate, if you put him on a talk show the audience would love him. Especially, it has to be said, if they were in the port or shipping business.

Why? Because Norin and his 900 or so colleagues at Cavotec believe they’ve cracked the code, or rather their part of the code, for green shipping.

Sceptical? Well, it’s over to Mikael…

All up side

“Take automated mooring for example,” he explains. “With Cavotec’s MoorMaster system you can dock large vessels, such as container or cargo ships, in around 30 seconds. Conventional mooring, using thrusters and tugs to conduct complex manoeuvres, would take up to an hour. So, you have an hour of burning expensive diesel fuel in ports, spewing out emissions into the atmosphere and impacting upon the health of local communities, or 30 seconds where remotely operated vacuum pads safely lock a ship into position. Which sounds better?

MoorMaster by Cavotec – saving time, money and emissions.

“What’s more, alongside the fuel savings, every minute saved in port increases the amount of time ships can spend at sea, enabling lower cruising speeds, saving fuel and further reducing emissions. There is no down side.”

When Cavotec’s Shore Power solutions are brought into the equation, allowing vessels to plug into land-based energy and switch off diesel generators while berthed, the savings are consolidated.

“I’ve started to talk about the idea of profitable sustainability with customers,” Norin states. “By which I mean they increase profitability by adopting sustainable solutions. Essentially, they get more money in their pockets while still having the ‘bragging rights’ of improved environmental performance. This is good for business and good for the environment. And that makes me, doing this, feel pretty good too!”

Master class

But don’t just take his word for the impact of such solutions.

In a study by DNV last year, the class society found that the MoorMaster system at the Port of Helsinki (installed in 2016) saves up to 2,800 tonnes of vessel fuel a year, resulting in 8,000 tonnes less CO2 emissions. A second system was installed last year, with connecting berths also established in nearby Tallinn, Estonia, allowing ships to sail from system to system without the need for conventional mooring lines and operations. Working together the four units will save over 8,000 tonnes of fuel, 24,000 tonnes of CO2 and around 300 tonnes of NOx emissions per annum.

Cavotec – plugging in to green maritime opportunity.

And for all-electric operations, MoorMaster works in combination with automated Shore Power charging connections, enabling ferries, like the ones in Oslo, to instantly plug in while offloading and loading passengers. These short charging bursts make for efficient turnarounds (“in a matter of minutes”) and enable ships to operate on relatively small batteries, saving CAPEX as well as OPEX. It’s a combination that has attracted grocery logistics firm ASKO, which will use the Cavotec solutions for its two high profile autonomous ships launching in Norway in 2022.

“Things are really moving forwards,” Norin states. “We feel like the whole world is catching up with us.”

Full speed ahead

The ‘catch up’ phrase relates to the fact that Cavotec has been doing this for years.

It’s first shore power connections were in Long Beach and Stockholm almost forty years ago, while the automated mooring system has been sucking up to ships for almost two decades. The new environmental focus redefining the shipping and port business – driven as much by customer and stakeholder pressure as regulations – is pushing Cavotec into overdrive, with contracts coming both port-side and on vessels, for retrofits as much as newbuilds.

“There’s so much that can be done today,” Norin says, “and with the significant savings from electrification, added to the fact we can retrofit technology while ships are sailing, it makes sense to make the switch.”

A lot of people are. The Cavotec head says the firm’s order backlog was up approximately 60% year-on-year in its last quarterly report, while installations – particularly vessel retrofits and turnkey port installations – are being done “as quickly as possible given the snowballing demand.”

“This is an incredible opportunity,” he smiles, “for us, but also for the industry. And that’s a message we’re keen to bring to the world.”

Which segues the conversation onto Nor-Shipping 2022.

Partnering for tomorrow

Cavotec is targeting Nor-Shipping, taking place in Oslo and Lillestrøm, 4-7 April, as a natural arena to connect with the international ocean community and talk about “the good business of sustainability”. The firm has invested in a partner role for the Blue Economy Hall, which focuses on showcasing and enabling sustainable solutions, and hopes to engage with a wide array of stakeholders on how to choose a profitable path forwards. Amongst other activity, the firm will participate in the always anticipated ‘Blue Talks’ programme.

Blue Talks at Nor-Shipping 2019.

“We have so many stakeholder groups, from containership owners, to the cruise industry, ports, regulators and industrial partners, that it’s difficult to connect with them in any one place,” he notes. “So, Nor-Shipping, which has always focused on innovation and enabling progress, is an obvious hub – a location where we can share knowledge, discuss solutions and inspire and be inspired by this unique business community.

“It’ll be great to come together again after so long apart. There’ll certainly be a lot to talk about!”

Expect “solutions-as-a-service” to be a key topic of interest.

At your service

Bringing the conversation to a close, Norin accepts that, even though the business and environmental benefits of electrification solutions are so strong, there can be commercial hurdles along the way to acceptance.

He admits: “Not every segment is performing, and not every port is in a position to invest. That’s why we’re trying to remove the final barriers to adoption with a new approach to installations – that of ‘solutions-as-a-service’.”

Effectively, what this means is that Cavotec installs MoorMaster and/or ShorePower systems at ports without cost and then operates them as a service, charging for each time they’re utilised. It’s the first time this has been done in the industry and, Norin notes, shows how a flexible approach can help convince those not in an investment position to get onboard and start unlocking “profitable sustainability.”

“It’s a simple, no-commitment solution that allows customers to trial the technology,” he imparts. “If they don’t like it then we’ll take the systems back without additional costs. Easy.”

Has this happened yet, or does he believe it will?

“I’m old enough to remember having a TV without a remote control,” he says with a final smile. “Then I got one. Would I have gone back after that? Well, would you?

“I think these kinds of solutions have a very bright future, and that’ll help us all have one. The task now is accepting that the future starts today. Let’s go.”

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