An avid environmentalist, Dr. Hicham Riba pays close attention to the latest green energy news from researchers and scientists. Dr. Hicham Riba is a pediatric dentist and realtor who shares deep concerns about the future of humanity. In this interview, Dr. Hicham Riba offers information about solar power and its potential impact
Community Blog: Hello – and welcome to Community Blog!
Dr. Hicham Riba: Thank you, it is a pleasure to be here with you today.
Community Blog: Let’s talk about solar power. Is solar power becoming more affordable?
Dr. Hicham Riba: Yes – In 2011, residential solar installations increased by more than 38 percent. It’s quite a meteoric rise.
Community Blog: In terms of actual materials, what is the primary ingredient of solar panels?
Dr. Hicham Riba: Interestingly, purified sand is the major component.
Community Blog: Is there truly enough sunlight to meet the world’s energy needs?
Dr. Hicham Riba: Indeed. Enough sunlight shines each hour to meet humanity’s needs for an entire year.
Community Blog: So then why isn’t solar power cheap and abundant?
Dr. Hicham Riba: Developing a device that can turn all these incoming photons into what we call electricity is not very cheap.
Community Blog: What are some of the other associated costs?
Dr. Hicham Riba: In many cases if you consider the cost of installation it’s often more expensive than natural gas or burning coal.
Community Blog: How can photovoltaics become cheaper?
Dr. Hicham Riba: It is going to take a number of technological breakthroughs in order for this to occur.
Community Blog: What’s the prognosis for new developments in this field?
Dr. Hicham Riba: New developments may include quantum dots, black silicon and other major fundamental shifts in physics. But it’s all been incredibly promising.
Community Blog: How do solar panels combat pollution?
Dr. Hicham Riba: Solar panels are a plausible alternative because they don’t emit as much CO2, mercury and other harsh pollutants into the air.
Community Blog: Why do you think people have been hesitant to pursue solar power?
Dr. Hicham Riba: I’m not entirely sure but I do believe that if the environmental and health costs of natural gas or coal were considered, solar would suddenly appear much cheaper.
Community Blog: Is there a new trend towards using solar panels in homes?
Dr. Hicham Riba: Solar panels are expected to become more attractive as they grow more efficient and less expensive. Europe has truly led the way in this trend.
Community Blog: What is the recommended course of action for European residences?
Dr. Hicham Riba: In terms of saving costs, each home or business in Spain, Italy and Germany could conceivably finish installation by the year 2020.
Community Blog: How would these installations affect the economy, in your opinion?
Dr. Hicham Riba: If these countries were to produce that many solar installations, it would make a significant impact on nuclear-, gas- and coal-based power companies. The same concept applies to the United States.
Community Blog: So are these goals coming to fruition?
Dr. Hicham Riba: It looks quite promising. In fact, thousands of European customers are seeking out renewables-based utilities as the industry of solar energy continues to rise.
Community Blog: Bottom line – what is the most important thing for people to understand about solar energy?
Dr. Hicham Riba: Solar energy is turning into an affordable option around the world. That’s generally the biggest drawback for consumers. But it’s exciting to think about the impact on future generations when considering energy sources. I’m very hopeful!
An Illinois state licensed realtor, Dr. Hicham Riba has been certified as a pediatric dentist since 2002. Dr. Hicham Riba is a former graduate and instructor of New York University.