29 Jan Dario Broich: Scientist, Explorer and Forever ‘Why-Kid’
At the age of three, Dario Broich decided he wanted to be a scientist or an explorer. Or both. Right from the start, he was one of those “really annoying why-kids” who just want to know . . . pretty much everything.
Fortunately for Greenstorc, Dario was also one of those smart, driven kids who came up with solutions to problems everyone else puts in the too-hard basket.
During his elementary school years in Germany, for instance, he kicked off a five-year project to rejuvenate a polluted, rubbish-filled lake in his Hamburg neighbourhood. The restored waterway began to bloom with fish, plant and rare bird life.
Yet the project also became a micro-lesson in human folly. Ten years later, the City Council decided to hack away the “ugly vegetation” which offended their sensibilities. Result? “The lake went muddy, smelly and bad again”, Dario says.
Now Greenstorc’s project manager, Dario regards science as the purest expression of the human need to know why things happen.
He also thinks Greenstorc technology can help save our planet from ecological destruction – the kind wreaked by a multitude of global ‘smelly lake’ decisions which are now threatening our survival.
Green sustainable solutions
Dario always wanted to know what made the world around him tick. He quickly realised he wouldn’t find out by swallowing whole the things he was told.
Long before he decided to study chemistry, he made a practice of asking questions, mulling over the answers then making his own decision. Soon he turned his attention to the new field of renewable power.
Things really changed for Dario when, aged 15, he watched the game-changing documentary film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. Al Gore’s blistering portrayal of a world in crisis set Dario on a new quest for green, sustainable energy solutions.
Governments must act before the planet reaches its tipping point, Dario insists.
“Yet there’s lots of talk and very little action. It’s always postponed because there is no immediate gain. It’s like keeping your smoking habit after a pulmonary infarction; but I guess that’s just human.”
Academic excellence and true grit
Dario decided to train as a chemical technical assistant, taking evening sessions while still at high school. Then he studied chemistry at Christian-Albrechts-University zu Kiel, embarking on a Masters degree once he gained his Bachelor of Science (Chemistry) in 2016.
Dario was on hand when the Institute of Physical Chemistry at Christian-Albrechts University Kiel (CAU) needed an additional member in one of their working groups for a Swiss Light Source (SLS) project.
He relished the chance to gain experience at the organisation which drives innovation in photon beam research. Afterwards, he was offered a PhD place at the SLS – part of the prestigious Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland’s largest research institute for natural and engineering sciences.
As fortune had it, Dario already knew Greenstorc CEO Paul Flynn through a chance meeting at the world’s largest Live Action Roleplay (LARP) event in 2010. The two men had always shared a passion for renewable energy. Now, however, Dario was armed with significant expertise relating to the industry.
It was, therefore, a no-brainer for Paul, who offered Dario the role of Greenstorc project manager.
On the one hand, Paul noted the young chemist working and thinking at the highest academic level. On the other, he saw a strong, resilient character who could talk to pretty much anyone, find practical solutions to problems and think on his feet.
Here was his ready-made project manager – a critical scientific mind spliced with a tough, all-weather approach to a multitude of daily challenges out in the field.
Dario didn’t think twice. He took the Greenstorc role and turned down the PhD offer.
Projects from corporate tower to Kenyan bush
Dario’s Greenstorc career kicked off in 2018 – and he hit the ground running in Kenya.
He says: “One day I’m sitting on the highest floor of the Government tower and the next day I’m 350 kilometres off-road, drinking beer with a goat herder in the middle of nowhere.”
Dario must keep all project stakeholders in the loop as well as every aspect of the project under control. He’s also tasked with studying documents, reporting data and advising on scientific and technical issues.
It’s a far cry from academic research. Dario knows he has to walk the line, keeping his head when all around him might be losing theirs.
Yet he loves it. “The challenges are really diverse but that’s also what makes it exciting.
“Summing up my job, I’d say it’s about being spontaneous and making the best out of whatever situations arise; creating productive progress from sheer chaos!”
The potential of green heat-to-power
Dario is also excited by the immense potential of green heat-to-power solutions in developing areas of Africa, South America, Asia and Oceania.
”The developed nations have a history of past mistakes and old habits; they change, but they change slowly. It’s an entirely different story for the emerging nations. They can skip all the steps and start where we eventually want to be.
“They have the chance to do it right from the start with the momentum to grow at an astonishing rate. Greenstorc will help to build the foundation and, if done right, the rest will just be a chain of causalities.
“Fighting the climate change is not done by saving on energy consumption, but by finding different solutions,” he says. “One of the solutions is directly in front of us: We technically have an infinite supply of green energy and it’s cheaper than fossil resources by far.
“By changing to green Heat-to-Power solutions, electricity and everything that solely depends on it will be entirely green and way cheaper. The potential is obvious and the door is open, we just need to step through!”
While a PhD is the next step for Dario, the why-kid is happy to see where life takes him.
“Life writes better stories than me,” he says. “And who even likes spoilers in the first place?”