18 November 2015

Wind and solar power

In high school I liked physics and mathematics, so I was looking for a study that involved these subjects, but in some sort of applied way. That is how I ended up in Utrecht in September 2001, starting to study Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, as it was then called. In the final year I got the opportunity to do my master research thesis at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), investigating how to determine sunshine duration from radiation measurements. This was a nice way to get to know a research institute and experience life as a researcher.

After graduating in June 2006 I wasn’t sure what step to take next in my career. To find out I talked to various people, at Utrecht University and KNMI, but also at Wageningen University, Alterra (a research institute linked to Wageningen University) and at MeteoGroup (a private weather company). From this I learned that I would like to develop myself further as a researcher, and fortunately there was a possibility to do this as a PhD student at the IMAU.
The next four years I learned a lot about potential vorticity and how changes high up in the stratosphere might have an influence on the winds in the troposphere. However, at least as important, I also learned what it is like to be a researcher:how to gather and analyze data, how to report and present results, to identify interesting research topics and experiments, and find people to collaborate with. The IMAU was a great place to do all these things, with nice colleagues to help you with (technical) problems, to listen when you just wanted to talk to someone about all the things that were not working the way you would want them to, and of course to relax with during coffee breaks and other social events.

Towards the end of a PhD contract you again have to think about your next career move, and I started looking for a job. I wanted to stay in research, but did not really feel the urge to go abroad. Furthermore, I was looking to work somewhat more in a team, and I was also interested in a bit more applied research. I found all this in my job at MeteoGroup; I started there in October 2010, just before defending my PhD thesis in December 2010, and I still work there today.

Yvonne Energy Meteorology conference Boulder June 2015 IMAU
Yvonne enjoying some spare time during an Energy Meteorology conference in Boulder, June 2015.

During the last years I have worked as a meteorological researcher on a variety of smaller projects (from case studies using radar and satellite images, and extreme temperature statistics, to investigating the influence of the weather on ship fuel consumption). At the moment I am part of the energy group, focusing on products that our customers in the energy sector could use. We provide, for example, wind, wind power and solar power forecasts. I am involved in the research to improve these forecasts and also in a project to build a system for internal use to handle all the data involved, do the calculations and provide the forecasts to the customer as quickly as possible. I like the fact that my job involves research, and that the results of this research are applied in products that are actually used in everyday life. I also like to work in a team, and I enjoy the coffee breaks, lunch walks and little chats with my colleagues, just like at IMAU.
I am happy to be working at MeteoGroup, but I am also glad that I started with a PhD at IMAU, as these 4 years have provided me with the tools I need as a researcher today. Although my work at MeteoGroup does not often involve the stratosphere anymore, many things I learned at the IMAU were very useful to give me a good start here!

Yvonne van der Schans-Hinssen