Spoiler alert: The latest version of the Death Star is solar powered!
Yes, I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens on opening day, thanks to my buddy/brother-in-law Jesse’s finagling and diligence. During some of the lamer previews, we discussed our respective occupations, and needless to say, much of the discussion revolved around the solar business. Some time in to the movie, it was revealed that the successor to the laser blasting, planet-destroying space station we all know and love derived its energy from the closest star, we all had that familiar little chuckle.
I mean, it makes sense that the Death Star Version 3.0 (or whichever version this is…I lose count, and I think the tally is open for debate, anyway) would use some sort of solar energy to operate. But I don’t think it had ever actually been addressed before now. In this Star Wars (which is, aside from all the low-hanging nostalgia stuff and predictable, formulaic storyline, the best Star Wars ever), there’s no mistaking how the bad guys charge their gigantic laser. The solar power scene goes on for quite a while.
So by this revelation, you might assume that the First Order (the evil successor to the Empire, which has barely even been rebranded) had developed a social conscience. Solar, after all, is the clean, responsible way to get energy. But as with so many other things, the Dark Side of the Force manages to twist and distort good things into terrible things, and we’re like “well, I guess it cuts both ways”. Moving objects with your thoughts? There are plenty of nefarious purposes for that. Putting irresistibly-compelling ideas in people’s heads? Lots of ways to abuse that one, too. Solar power that isn’t environmentally friendly? Go figure…
This is how they do it: They float their space station (aptly named “Starkiller Base”) up to within a stone’s throw of the nearest star (Star, of course, is a relative term, because a ‘star’ to us is a ‘sun’ to the denizens of some other planet.), and begin sucking the entire thing into its core. This scene actually reminded me strongly of Mega Maid sucking the fresh air out of Druidia’s atmosphere in Spaceballs. Anyway, once Starkiller Base has devoured the entire sun, myriads of stormtroopers assemble in a display of organized, martial discipline that would have made Hitler weep with admiration, and listen to an inspirational speech made by a sniveling, evil general, whereupon Starkiller Base expectorates a hundred-trillion-bazillion British Thermal Units of converted energy at its target(s) in an array of simultaneous, guided, red laser beams, each capable of obliterating an entire planet.
We don’t get to see what happens to any planets that had previously been orbiting around the late sun, but common sense tells us that they would become very dark and cold, and go careening off into space. Every living thing that couldn’t just fly off in a spaceship (which is actually a pretty tangible solution in the world of Star Wars) would perish within days. Of course, there wouldn’t even be days for that planet anymore.
So there you have it. The Empire/First Order has managed to make solar power the most eco-unfriendly thing ever done in the history of the universe. When you get your panels, be wise with them. With great power comes great responsibility. Use the Force.