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.
“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?
“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 downside.”
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!”
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.
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.”
Cavotec has been doing this for years. It’s first shore power connections were in Long Beach and Stockholm almost 40 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.”
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.”
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 forward. Amongst other activity, the firm will participate in the Blue Talks’ programme.