Alumniverhaal

Alumnus Rutger Wierikx - MSc in Earth and Environment

Rutger Wierikx completed the BSc programme in Soil, Water and Atmosphere specialising in Hydrology. He has now been working for over ten years at IF Technology in Arnhem, where he develops sustainable energy solutions for buildings that use the ground as an energy source/buffer.

The knowledge I gained during my hydrology studies is still the basis for what I do every day.

Degree programme

“The knowledge I gained during my studies is still the basis for what I do every day at IF. One key area of the Wageningen programme is the integrated approach to problem-solving, a method that I still draw on daily when advising clients. Student life in the university’s Y-shaped flats was also instrumental in developing my social skills, which are of great use to me in my current role as team leader, a key aspect of which is motivating and inspiring my colleagues.”

Career

Rutger started at IF Technology as a technical expert, working on geohydrology studies and permit applications for UTES systems. He now works for the same company as a policy team manager and combines this role with that of senior advisor with an emphasis on maintaining municipal client relations.

“IF is a consulting firm aimed at innovative and sustainable energy and water solutions, particularly those involving the ground. Our core activities revolve around Underground Thermal Energy Storage, or UTES: a sustainable technology for heating and cooling buildings that uses the ground as an energy source or buffer. We engage in all stages of sustainable projects, including development (feasibility studies and policy support), realisation (system design, permit applications and construction supervision) and operation (optimisation of system performance).

I personally work as Policy Team Leader in the Development Department, where I manage seven consultants and experts in the areas of Energy, Geohydrology, ICT/GIS and Policy/Legislation. Our key clients are municipal and provincial authorities, who we help achieve their sustainability targets (e.g. becoming energy-neutral by 2020).

My current projects include a feasibility study on the application of high-temperature thermal storage systems. These are used to buffer residual underground heat for later use as a sustainable energy source when there is a net heat demand.”

One practical example of this type of application is at the NIOO research centre in Wageningen. “In the summer, heat from greenhouses is captured and stored underground, at about 50°C. In the winter, that energy is released to provide heating.”

Future plans

“Given the level of job satisfaction with my colleagues and the great freedom I enjoy in realising my goals, my immediate future still lies with IF. I also see it as a way to make my contribution to the sustainability effort, an issue that currently faces us all.”