Do you know what Superman’s greatest super power is? Is it unmatched strength, the ability to fly, or lasers shooting out of his eyes? For me it is his ability to put on a pair of reading glasses and become completely unrecognizable to anyone who knows him. The other, more amazing powers are justified; Superman draws his power from the sun. See? He can harness the suns energy and release it in different ways; makes perfect sense. But what’s the deal with the eyeglasses?

Anyways…we; the human race, are trying desperately to harness the suns power in more efficient ways. Electricity for homes and cars will be our first step and hopefully flying and laser eyes will be soon to follow.

Solar power to me has always been ugly plate things on weird people’s roofs, or something hippies yell at CEOs. But when I was up in the north of Thailand staying at the Lanjia Lodge I saw little cute solar cells outside some people’s homes and I thought, “I want one of those.”

Awhile back solar power was debunked by people to be “too expensive” and “not realistic” but research now-a-days tells a much different story. Debunkers have been silenced and solar power is for real.

The sun doesn’t only energize Superman; through photosynthesis it energizes plants which in turn energize animals and humans. Energy Now claims that only .01% of the sun’s energy can give the earth all the energy we need; forever. And here are the two ways humans have figured out how to harness it.

  1. Photovoltaic Devices or Solar Cells

These devices change light directly into electricity. Cells are  combined  to make big panels. No pollutants here; all natural. And no need for extra land    due to the fact that they are located on roofs, or more recently anywhere that is the most efficient. Doesn’t work at night.

  1. Solar Thermal Electric Power

This is the process of capturing the sun’s heat. This is the thing you see in the desert where all the mirrors are reflecting light to a source in order to heat it up. The solar energy boils water, the steam moves a turbine, the turbine moves a generator and BAM…electricity.  Doesn’t work at night.

The biggest pro in regards to solar power is that it is green and ultimately will lower costs. Energy Now says that with inflation and such a $150 electric bill today will be $750 in 25 years. With the use of solar panels you will pay the same amount now as you will in the future. If not less once battery technology improves; helping to store the energy to use at night.

The biggest con in regards to solar power seems to be the initial cost. But really everything is expensive initially; take a car for example. Yearly maintenance and gas prices aren’t that expensive when you look at the initial cost of buying the car. Yet we only see “initial costs” as a negative in regards to saving our planet and saving money in the long run. The fact that it doesn’t work at night is another big con but as I said in the previous paragraph battery technology is growing rapidly.

Solar Power isn’t going anywhere. Germany and other countries worldwide are actively researching new ways to improve it, to store it and to use it.  And thank god for Germans getting involved in this. If anyone is efficient enough, ruthless enough, and smart enough to actually get this done it’s the Germans. And don’t forget about the solar cells being used in Thailand’s rural villages; this shows that not only are wealthy governments realizing the benefits, but so are meager farmers.

Some “activists” roll their eyes at humanity’s energy crisis saying, “All the power we need is free from the sun,” and then sip their overpriced latte while wearing a wool hat and a cool t-shirt. Well, I hope they are right.