Join our world-class energy technology cluster.MembersBecome a member

– The energy transformation will create winners and losers

By Linea Bancel|Published 07 December 2021|Category: News, Valley Voice

Valley Voice – a column where our cluster members are in focus. This week we talked with Tomas Tronstad, Head of Shipping and Technology at Wilhelmsen Group,  one of the new members of the cluster.

– Our ambition as a shaper of the maritime industry is to use our entire network and footprint to work towards the much-needed zero-emission goals, says Tronstad.

1. What are you doing right now?

We are working to realize zero-emission shipping through our newly established company Topeka. Since this is groundbreaking in every way, it kind of lands in the middle of technical, organizational, and political business. We are working with several partners, many of which are members of the Energy Valley Cluster.

I’m also actively working with our digital developments, which is about finding how we match the business needs and the technical abilities of our clients with our own digital competence and new business models/practices. Centrally within the Wilhelmsen group, we have several fantastic pure digital companies, in addition to massive digital development in various Wilhelmsen companies who are not digital at heart, so the challenge is also how to best match all our efforts.

And lastly, since I’m a freshman in the Wilhelmsen group, I’m spending time getting to know people and the company, which is impressive and large. 15 000 people in over 60 countries. A comprehensive network.

2. What are the biggest challenges and opportunities in the future?

The way I see it, the energy transformation, including handling carbon dioxide (both emissions and CO2 as a substance), will create winners and losers. The uncertainty is mainly towards how fast the transformation will take place, meaning at which pace the companies will be hit either by market regulation or by market “demands”. And, of course, a big uncertainty is about what technical solutions are winning through. I think the companies that build knowledge internally on the new energy and digital solutions, that build the mentality of challenging the established and do some experimenting, will have a great advantage.

3. How is Wilhelmsen working to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050?

For Wilhelmsen, it starts with our strategy. Our CEO Thomas Wilhelmsen says “It’s not enough to have a sustainability strategy, you need to have a sustainable strategy”. We go at it from the top, and our ambition as a shaper of the maritime industry is to use our entire network and footprint to work towards the much-needed zero-emission goals.

More concretely, we are building strategies for all our group companies so they can, in their own markets deliver on our future ambition. We have for example companies in our group selling products and services to the maritime industry, and therefore not necessarily directly working in zero-emissions but supporting the merchant fleet in its carbon footprint with how our products are made, distributed, and disposed of after end-use. As mentioned already, what is probably more directly tied to net-zero emissions is our newly established zero-emission shipping company Topeka. The goal here is to produce and operate a fleet of zero-emission vessels covering different segments across the seven seas.

4. What keeps you awake at night with regards to the energy transition?

In the context of the Energy Valley cluster, my fear is that we as a nation do not rise to the zero-emission industrial opportunity and challenge. That we don’t dear to be bold enough and with high enough ambitions but are waiting too long with governmental investments, waiting too long for political and practical solutions that will enable a zero-emission industry to develop. That we are too afraid of challenging the EU system on their competition rules and subsidiary rules instead of being creative and using every corner of the bureaucratic landscape to find solutions.

5. What do you think will be the most valuable thing about being a member of Energy Valley?

The network arenas and the people we meet. Plus, the ideas and spirit we will jointly develop.

6. Is there any book that has inspired you in the way you lead?

Not really, no – I tend to find the leadership books I have come across a bit theoretical, reality always bites differently, but how about “Hvite Niggere” by Ingvar Ambjørnsen as a guiding principle; half true and half-joke.

7. Which Energy Valley member do you want to pass the baton on to?

I grew up in Asker when it was a small village. Noticing that the municipality of Asker is a member, I would love to pass it on to them.

Thank you, Tomas!