Collaborating with Van Oord to decarbonise shipping

Theo De Lange is a director of Van Oord’s Offshore Wind division, one of Ørsted’s strategic suppliers for marine services. He talks about his company’s ongoing decarbonisation journey, and the part this plays in Ørsted’s supply chain decarbonisation programme. 


Decarbonising renewable energy supply chains is a challenge no company can solve by itself. At Ørsted, we firmly believe that collaboration inside and outside the energy industry is the key to success. We caught up with three of our strategic suppliers to get their perspectives on supply chain decarbonisation.  

Hi Theo! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role?
I’m currently a Director of the Offshore Wind division of Van Oord, with a focus on continental Europe. Within our management team, I'm also responsible for our sustainability programme I manage both projects that we are executing and projects that we are tendering for.

I started my career as a marine engineer sailing on installation vessels, and then on general cargo vessels. After that I completed a master’s in mechanical engineering and worked in refrigeration; I also worked at the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands, where I was responsible for the offshore wind research programme.

Now my career has come full circle, returning to offshore installation. My life has always been based around the water. I come from a sailing family; my brothers were in the merchant navy. And sailing is still a passion of mine, it’s something I do in my free time. I live near the sea, like everyone in the Netherlands! 

What’s the biggest challenge you face, and how are you addressing it?
We’re a are Balance of Plant contractor with a focus on transport and installation. That means that we provide marine services, including jackup vessels – the large, specialised vessels that install wind turbines and foundations at sea.

So, our emissions are heavily linked to the fuel used by the vessels. And shipping is one of the hardest sectors to decarbonise, partly because vessels have a lifespan of 30 years. You can adapt existing vessels to run on green fuels, but at present, green fuels are more expensive, and we want to remain competitive on cost.

That said, we know we must decarbonise. When Ørsted asked us to report our carbon emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project, we realised through that process that our targets were not rigorous enough. So, we began to set new, science-based targets across all our activities and cover scopes 1 (direct emissions), 2 (emissions from purchased electricity), and 3 (value chain emissions). We know our licence to grow depends on how well we manage our efforts to decarbonise.

What’s needed for you to reach your goals?
Firstly, we need to find synergies between companies. For example, we help build offshore wind farms for Ørsted, who can use the electricity to produce green methanol, which can be used as fuel for our ships.

Secondly, we all need to embed sustainability criteria into our procurement processes. In 2020, we introduced an emissions reduction programme for our 100 largest suppliers, asking them to report their emissions, and we’re making that reporting part of our tendering requirements. If our suppliers don’t report their emissions and set targets, they run the risk of losing us as their customer. We also believe that by being ahead of the curve we can help motivate others and catalyse change, giving our global society a chance to reach the goals of the Paris agreement.

Finally, we hope that governments and our customers will do the same and embed decarbonisation criteria into tenders so that we can be rewarded for the investments we’re making for a greener future.

About our collaboration
Van Oord is one of the first Offshore Installation companies to have set an emissions reductions target covering Scopes 1, 2, and 3. Van Oord has also signed up to the SBTi, with an additional commitment to the Business Ambition for 1.5°C initiative. Since engaging in Ørsted’s supplier decarbonization programme, Van Oord has begun developing a similar programme for its own suppliers, demonstrating a clear commitment to driving change.