The Offshore Energy unit, led by Lonneke Holierhoek, makes vessels and maritime equipment for both the fossil fuel and renewable energy sector. Since moving into this position, she already applied various insights from her previous job. From 2017 to 2022, she was Chief Operational Officer at The Ocean Clean-up. This widely praised NGO run by Boyan Slat, has set out to rid the world’s oceans of at least 90% of all the plastic waste floating around by 2040. Lonneke brought not only a spark of innovation and idealism with her, but also practical experience.
A ‘minimum viable product’
One practical insight that she has implemented is that when designing a new product, you should try to have a simple, functioning version ready as quickly as possible, i.e. a minimum viable product, as it is called in IT. The essence of this idea is that perfecting a product and making it look good are things you should leave to a later stage. First check how your prototype works in practice.
Speaking of innovation and product development, these are processes that the team is constantly working on. They put a lot of their time and capacity into designing technologies, vessels and equipment for the offshore renewable energy sector, which is a strong growth market for the coming decades. Even though Royal IHC is a relative newcomer in this sector, it can draw on extensive know-how and, on its experience, gained in the fossil energy sector. Many of the technologies used in the latter sector can, with some adjustments, also be used in designs for customers in the renewable energy sector.
IHC Offshore Energy’s products contribute towards the energy transition (SDG 13: Climate action) because they, among other things, make it possible to bring offshore power ashore. At the same time, the team also focusses on energy supply to and energy consumption of new and existing vessels and equipment. Nowadays, resources such as hydrogen, batteries and even ammonia are potential options to power propulsions systems. And in general, combustion engines are being replaced by electric motors wherever possible.
Attention for sustainability efforts
Lonneke considers internal and external communications a key part of her job. Both in communications towards her own employees and in communications towards customers and partners, there is still room to better get Royal IHC’s sustainability narrative across. Though the company is already doing a lot of things right in this field, drawing a great deal of attention to sustainability needs to be improved. And even though the urge to change is not equally strong in all employees, she does try to animate them, by asking questions for example. In the meantime, she tries to set the right example, including by driving an electric car. “Basically, everything you do has an effect,” she concludes.
Short term focus
The goal that Lonneke has set for the short term is a more balanced product portfolio, with more renewable and less fossil. The same goes for the order book.
“The market is changing significantly and for good, but we, as inhabitants of planet Earth, really have to forge ahead with the energy transition and pull out all the stops for that.”Lonneke Holierhoek - Director Offshore Energy
Besides wind power, there are also opportunities to generate power from the natural movement of water in our seas and oceans, including from waves and tides, which is known as ‘marine energy’ or ‘ocean energy.’ At the same time, fossil energy sources will continue to be needed over the coming decades, on a global scale. It is simply impossible at this stage to generate enough energy from non-fossil sources. For the extraction of fossil energy resources, just like for renewables, IHC Offshore Energy can supply vessels and equipment that is already powered by renewable energy as much as possible. And these vessels are, of course, certified.
“Collaboration is a key concept: you cannot do it alone. Not in your commercial relationship with customers, but not in a broader context either, i.e. in helping to realise the energy transition.”
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