As CEO of Maritime CleanTech, Hege Økland has been a driving force for green shipping in Norway. In her new role, she’ll focus on delivering green fuels for shipping.
The coast of Norway is world famous as the hub for ground-breaking green, shipping technologies, and Økland has played a lead role in this since 2011 when Maritime CleanTech was founded.
– Hege Økland has done a formidable job of initiating a green paradigm shift in the maritime industry. This has contributed to making Norway a frontrunner in developing new emission-cutting technologies for the maritime industry, says Chair of the Board at Maritime CleanTech, Bjørn Sundland.
The chairman is clear that Maritime CleanTech’s work under Økland’s leadership is of great importance for the green transition in a tradition-heavy industry:
– It’s important for Norway that our maritime industry is in the driver’s seat of the green transition. The fact that our talented Director of 11 years is now taking on a new international task to contribute to this, strengthens our belief that together we can reach the climate goals. Hege Økland deserves a big thank you for the great effort she has given to Maritime CleanTech over the past decade, says Sundland.
Continues the collaboration
This autumn Hege Økland moves on to lead Hy2gen Norway AS, which is owned by the German company, Hy2Gen AG. They will invest heavily in hydrogen production and the necessary infrastructure along the coast.
– It’s been a true honour and pleasure to get to work so closely with Norway’s skilled and ambitious maritime industry. With mutual trust and the forward-minded attitudes of both small and large companies, we have been given a great starting position for taking the big steps that are needed. Cutting emissions from shipping is a major international task where the world looks to Norway to take the lead. We must seize that opportunity together, both the industry itself and the governing authorities, Hege Økland says.
Hege Økland led the start-up of the collaborative organization, Maritime CleanTech, eleven years ago. The goal was to develop more energy-efficient and climate-friendly solutions for shipping, based on the leading maritime expertise that already existed in the region between Bergen and Stavanger. It started with eight forward-minded member companies. Over the last decade, maritime CleanTech has grown to become a complete international business cluster, which today counts over 150 partners. Even though Økland is giving up the director’s chair, she will continue to play an active part in the cluster.
– It will be sentimental handing over my key card in the autumn. But I also feel this is the right time to move on. I’ve had a wonderful time creating this unique innovation hub together with talented colleagues. Fortunately, I will still be working closely with people and companies in the cluster. To decarbonise shipping we need to increase the volumes of green fuels in use. Establishing new green value chains requires good arenas for collaboration. Here you get to be at the forefront of development, so I’m looking forward to participating in Maritime CleanTech’s events in the future as well, says Økland.
A growing portfolio and increasing interest from abroad
Maritime CleanTech is particularly known for bringing the industry together for world-leading innovation activities, and has, among other things, established several large European pilot projects. Through these projects, battery, hydrogen, and ammonia solutions for emission-free vessels are developed and demonstrated. For example, the world’s first zero-emission fast ferry, Medstraum, which was recently launched for scheduled operation in Rogaland, Norway:
– This proves that our projects lead to real solutions that reduce climate- and environmentally harmful emissions from ships. I am proud of what we achieve through active collaboration like this – across companies, the research environment, and the public sector. Our industry is world-leading in new propulsion technologies and energy production. The potential for making a market out of green solutions is huge, and we must find these solutions. These industrial collaborations make it possible, Økland states.
Green shipping is a major investment in the industrial transformation of Norway. The vision is clear in the government’s new road map for the green transition: Norway must be an international maritime power, paving the way through developing, building, and adopting zero-emission solutions for various vessels. For the members of Maritime CleanTech, it is important that this transition is guided by the industry’s needs.
– Maritime CleanTech is owned and run by the industry, with representatives from the entire green maritime value chain. Our members point out that there is a great need for risk relief, cooperation in technology development, and close political contact. This is where Maritime CleanTech stands out, and our members are increasing in numbers every year. The administration has a solid team, which will now take the organisation further along with several major technology projects, says Bjørn Sundland.
The board has started the process of recruiting a new CEO for Maritime CleanTech. As a result of the ever-increasing project portfolio, they are also looking to recruit several new positions in the administration.