Frank WilschutSenior Environmental and Social Manager at New Energy Coalition
''Groningen offers the total picture."
As a child already, Frank Wilschut (43) was fascinated by nature. In particular bythe aspect of climate change. Today, he is therefore involved in the energy transition. Since there is the chance to be more sustainable, we have to make it happen. ''In Groningen, we are working on a new world.''
How does the climate work? What processes are at work and how do they influence each other? These two questions have preoccupied Frank since childhood. At school, he was brilliant in physics; he simply loved it. Not surprisingly, later he passionately studied Physics in Groningen. He graduated in glaciology, the study of glaciers and ice caps. The graduation took him to Utrecht, but he continued to live in Groningen during the weekends. During his studies he went to many places, including the glaciers of Canada. An experience he will never forget. ''Here we were concerned with the interaction between the changing climate and the ice sheets. We were measuring on glaciers, which was insane,'' he says proudly.
In the following years, he worked, among others, for TNO in Utrecht and Economic Affairs and Climate in The Hague. These jobs gave him great satisfaction, but in the back of his mind remained the thought of returning to Groningen one day. A place with a fine balance between a bustling city and a rustic surrounding countryside. So as soon as a position at the New Energy Coalition opened up, he saw this as the moment to go back. ''I didn't leave just for the new job, but for the overall picture Groningen has to offer.''
''It is a wonderful challenge to work on so many levels towards this important goal''
Back in Groningen, Frank is concerned with climate. The energy transition, to be a bit more specific. To accelerate it, he says. A mission and passion in one. ''At New Energy Coalition, we are working on tomorrow's sustainable future. We are building a new ecosystem.'' He leads a team of project managers and experts working on so-called green molecules. Think of hydrogen, but also green gas. Forms of energy that ensure us as humans to produce fewer emissions.
The bottom line: the energy transition must be achieved together. ‘’As a driver of this transition, we are working with large companies, SMEs, governments and knowledge institutions. But we also want citizens to contribute ideas, participate in decisions and, of course, benefit from it. So we are working with the whole society. It is a wonderful challenge to work on so many levels towards this important goal.'' And the opportunities to work towards a sustainable future are numerous in Groningen. From the University Medical Centre Groningen to the Eemshaven and the Zernike campus. The latter site is home to the New Energy Coalition. ''Groningen has so much talent running around in multiple sectors,'' Frank says.
When he is not busy with his impactful work, he can often be found on his racing bike. ''Nice tours along the Reitdiep and through villages with medieval churches. You certainly won’t find those everywhere. Groningen is then also the most beautiful province of the Netherlands'', Frank exclaims.. He lives with his wife in a sustainable house in the Groningen village of Middelstum. Before he used to be stuck in traffic jams or had to stand on busy trains, while now he simply cycles to the city. Straight through the meadows. Accompanied by black-tailed godwits, lapwings and other natural beauty. ''The same travel time as before, but now much more beautiful. A luxury you have to experience.''
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