In the following 30 years, we will see a revolution within shipping. Digitisation, robotisation, and automation will change the way we work. Decarbonisation will change our vessels and operations. Handling and leveraging this transformation is a crucial part of our strategy.
We support the goals of the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association and have vowed to have carbon-neutral operations by 2050. In addition, all vessels ordered after 2030 will have propulsion with zero emission of greenhouse gases.
Both goals demand a shift in how we operate and think. We need to research, design and test propulsion systems and vessels to replace existing ships. But at the same time, we know that it is not sustainable to scrap ten or fifteen years old vessels.
Instead, we need to make sure our existing fleet has a steep decrease in emissions in the years to come. We need decarbonisation both through fleet renewal and through using cleaner fuels and retrofitting existing ships.
To get there, we have established a small team of maritime engineers and experts, led by our VP Decarbonisation. Their stretch goal is to get us to a carbon-neutral situation well ahead of 2050. And on the way, they will make sure we reduce emissions as much as possible.
The task is not a small one. Until the late 1700s, ships were propelled by oars or sails. Then came the introduction of steam engines. Just over a hundred years later, the first fuel oil engine was installed. And now, we need to find yet another solution. There is one big difference, though: with the steam engine and fuel oil engine, ship owners adopted new but existing technology to be more efficient. This time, we need to develop new and untested technology to avoid a climate crisis.
The Grieg legacy has always been to adopt new technology early on. When shipbroker Joachim Grieg set up his business in 1884, he was among the first to use the telegraph. We have built on that legacy and implemented digital solutions from the late 1990ies. But the changes we now witness are something different.
To succeed in the transformation ahead, we need to adopt digital solutions in all aspects of our operations. We need to modernise our systems. Sensor technology will deliver vast amounts of data, which with artificial intelligence can give us real-life monitoring of fleet activity and continuous routing and vessel performance optimisation. And the data will make it possible for us to implement actual predictive maintenance.
Better bandwidth onboard will dramatically change the communication between land and sea, possibly changing the competencies both onboard and ashore.
To leverage these changes, we need to develop our most important resource: our people. We aspire to have a team where everyone has embraced digital tools as the obvious way of working. In all departments, we will have people who push for better processes and methods of working, utilising the best possible tools. Digital is no longer something the IT department is handling. Digital is for all of us – all the time.
Our sustainability pledge: We will restore our oceans
In 2019, the Grieg Group pledged: We will restore the ocean. We acknowledge that human activities often harms the seas, be it plastic or rising temperatures. Shipping lives on and of the deep blue waters, and we have a special responsibility to do what we can to restore our oceans to their former glory.
Decarbonisation is one obvious solution to some of the problems. But we know there are many other challenges following our operations. To be a sustainable ship management company, we need to handle those as well.
Our ballast water shall always be free of alien organisms when we release it out into the sea. Together with partners, we look into better ways to reduce hull fouling to minimise the release of toxic chemicals. We participate in special programs to avoid sound pollution in areas where endangered whales and other species live.
Over the last couple of years, we have also worked hard to reduce the use of plastic on board and ensure that we handle our remaining plastic waste properly. Refillable water bottles paired with installing water filling stations onboard have reduced our use of single-use water bottles by 67% compared to 2020.
In 2021, we also implemented a new procedure that stated that we would only land plastic waste in countries with adequate waste handling systems. It has been challenging to map which countries we could label as “green”. Still, we have done it – and are disposing of close to 80% of the remaining plastic waste in “green “countries.