The 50 Inspiring Champions of the Blue MBA Class of 2023 – Meet Jacob Heinricy Jensen
Offshore wind industry is key energiser in drive for renewables, says Jacob Jensen, Cadeler A/S operations chief and Blue MBA participant
Jacob Heinricy Jensen is “extremely proud of taking an active part in the energy transition” which is centre stage in global efforts to tame climate change.
He is chief operations officer of Oslo-listed Cadeler A/S, a key supplier of marine installation and engineering services in the offshore wind industry.
Mr Jensen senses increasingly the commitment within his organisation to help build a global future of greatly reduced carbon emissions. The same sense of purpose he finds among his fellow-participants in the Class of 2023 of the Executive MBA in Shipping & Logistics (the Blue MBA).
Two and a half years ago, he moved to offshore wind after a long career in oil and gas.
“The reason for my move to offshore wind and not any other industry had to do with first, that the offshore wind industry and Cadeler has a really meaningful purpose for me, and I’m extremely proud of taking an active part in the energy transition and being amongst colleagues who are here for the same reason,” he says.
“Every time we install a new wind turbine is another step forward supporting the energy transition. Many of my younger colleagues especially are extremely focused on the climate agenda and committed to make changes; at Cadeler I have colleagues who would rather go by train to visit their family in France, and colleagues who deliberately only buy second-hand clothing. This mindset and the initiatives they take is remarkable and inspiring.
“The other reason for moving to offshore wind was that I was looking for an industry with the same level of complexity as oil and gas.”
Throughout his 25 years of professional experience his roles have been closely involved with health, safety, environment, and quality (HSEQ), compliance and risk management.
He is adamant that “when working in a company like Cadeler where you have vessels offshore doing complex installation in close cooperation with our clients, safety is number one priority in everything we do. Our focus is to prevent incidents from happening, by continuously improving our safety culture and best practices. If an incident happens offshore, help is suddenly far away, and as a company you therefore need to ensure you can deal with whatever accident scenario you can think of.
“Having activities offshore adds this extra layer of complexity to your work life, which I find really exciting. We need to plan all activities that much more thoroughly, have risk assessments in place for everything we do, and we constantly need to support our colleagues offshore to ensure they have all conditions in place to work to the highest possible safety standards.”
Given his considerable track record, one might ask what perceived extra benefit impelled him to sign up for the Blue MBA, and to what extent the engagement with fellow participants will support his ongoing career.
His answer is unequivocal: “When offered the exciting opportunity to do an MBA by my employer, Cadeler, there was no doubt in my mind that the Blue MBA at Copenhagen Business School was the right choice for me. As a Danish company with Danish-flagged vessels, Cadeler also supports the Blue MBA at CBS as the most obvious choice of education, in the light of my current position in the company and my career path.
“Despite having an extensive experience, especially within oil and gas, the shipping and logistics element within offshore wind is still fairly new to me after two and a half years in that industry. The Blue MBA will help me strengthen my competences and knowledge of the maritime industry, which will help me to better understand and cope with complex challenges, and in general improve my basis for decision-making as chief operations officer at Cadeler.
“By choosing the Blue MBA, I expect to get much more insight into all relevant aspects of the shipping and logistics industry. Furthermore, I expect to be able to enhance my network in the maritime industry with a group of stimulating new classmates, representing various companies across the industry. Hopefully, this enhanced network in the maritime industry can also enable potential new means of cooperation across Blue Denmark [the cluster of Danish shipowners, yards, equipment manufacturers, service and repair organisations, ship designers, shipping, and logistics entities]
“With regard to my employer, the company will develop a chief operations officer who has a much broader skillset and knowledge and relevant in-depth understanding of shipping and logistics. Further, my employer will have an employee with an enhanced industry network that the company can benefit from in the future.”
At Cadeler, Mr Jensen’s role covers responsibility for marine operations, crewing, project planning and execution, project engineering, engineering development and business development.
Throughout the energy industry many contracts have been agreed in recent months relating to new and existing offshore wind projects. Does Mr Jensen expect the brisk pace to continue, and if so, why?
“The offshore wind industry is growing rapidly,” he says, “and according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) the global offshore wind market is expected to expand significantly over the next two decades. The potential is huge, but still very dependent on government policies and further supply chain outbuild.”
Defining more precisely the market headwinds to be faced, he says:
“If you look at the reports of 4C Offshore, which is one of the leading market intelligence organisations for renewable energy markets, and you compare the predicted offshore wind market demand with the current and expected supply of windfarm installation vessels (WIVs), then you see a clear indication that offshore wind can expect to face a significant bottleneck in WIV supply during the coming years. This could potentially impact the wind turbine generation (WTG) installation pace and Cadeler already experiences that clients are concerned about constraints in WIV supply and are eager to enter into earlier agreements than seen in the past.
“Offshore wind industry growth and predicted constraints in supply of WIVs are the main reasons why Cadeler in June 2021 signed a contract for two new state-of-the-art windfarm installation vessels to be delivered in Q3, 2024 and Q3, 2025.”
Meanwhile, Cadeler’s two existing vessels, Wind Osprey and Wind Orca are busy installing WTGs at the Seagreen project in the UK, and in April Wind Osprey will begin installation of WTGs on the Hollandse Küst Zuid 1-4 project in the Netherlands.
The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) says that offshore wind today is only 2% of what the world needs to get to net zero by 2050. Does this mean that the 2050 goal set by the big Cop 26 summit in November 2021 of heads of government cannot be achieved?
Mr Jensen concedes that reaching net zero by 2050 “is a very ambitious target, and with the current installation rates (both onshore and offshore) we will meet less than 50% of the wind energy needed by 2050 according to the GWEC.
Despite that, “I don’t think that net zero by 2050 is a hopeless target. The opportunity is there. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) there is enough offshore wind resource globally to meet the world’s entire electricity demand several times over. The big challenge is to get governments globally to take the necessary bold decisions now, along with tangible programmes to ensure delivery of the capacity needed. “
How do the skillsets needed for strategic leadership differ between offshore wind and a) traditional offshore energy and b) ocean shipping?
“I would rather turn it around and say that there are many similarities between offshore wind, offshore oil and gas (my previous employments were with Dong Energy and Ineos) and then the more traditional shipping (which I’m getting much more familiarised with through the Blue MBA).”
What does Mr Jensen say in response to critics of wind farms who contend that they are expensive because it is hard to build robust and secure systems in deep water, that they are vulnerable to strong wave action and stormy winds, that they are difficult to maintain, and have an unquantified impact on marine life?
“There is no doubt that activities offshore will always be more expensive than similar activities onshore. However, offshore wind is an excellent source of clean, reliable renewable energy and by having the wind farms offshore you avoid any visual or noise impact on neighbouring communities. On top of that, offshore wind speeds are typically faster and the opportunity to build bigger wind turbines, being more efficient in terms of MW produced, are great advantages to offshore wind.
“Further to that, we shall this year be building the world’s first utility-scale offshore wind farm that is completely subsidy-free. This is a clear trend we see for future projects, where developers will be paying a fee to develop an offshore wind farm and rely only on consumers’ willingness to pay. So it might be that an offshore wind farm is expensive, but it is competitive with historical sources of energy, and with the wind turbines continuing to grow in size and efficiency, this is a trend in the offshore wind industry that will only continue to move in the right direction.”