What is Solarpunk? Explanation, meaning, definition

In a reality marked by climate change and environmental destruction, many people long for a vision of the future that is characterized by hope and sustainability. A „solar punk“ therefore describes a subgenre that strives for positive and sustainable change in private and economic life. The main motif represents innovation in environmentally friendly technologies combined with aesthetic and futuristic ideas. Similar to „steampunk“ or „dieselpunk„, for example, „solarpunk“ takes refuge in an idealized fantasy world in which targeted narratives are adopted and lived.

„Solarpunk“ is therefore part of a whole series of subgenres that have emerged in recent years. It represents a comparatively unknown subgenre. The meaning of „solarpunk“, its origin as well as the main views and lifestyles will therefore be discussed in more detail in the following subsections. Furthermore, potential criticisms of „solarpunk“ will be pointed out.

Definition of the term „Solarpunk“

The term „solarpunk“ is a combination of the nouns „solar“ and „punk“ and represents a movement that propagates an alternative vision of the future. The term „solar“ refers to solar energy and renewable resources, while „punk“ represents the spirit of nonconformity and rebellion against established norms.

A „solar punk“ is therefore someone who advocates for a world centered on clean energy, sustainability, and social justice. The movement challenges traditional notions of urbanity and technology and strives for a futuristic, livable society in which community spirit, green architecture, and environmentally conscious thinking play a central role.

„Solarpunk“ is a manifestation of the desire for a hopeful and sustainable future, combining the reality of renewable energy with a creative, utopian imagination.

Word origin and social classification of „solarpunk“

While the term „punk“ originated in the early 1960s and refers to a non-conformist youth movement of the time, the terms „solar“ and „solarpunk“ in particular are much younger. „Solar“ emerged around the 1970s and 1980s with the advent of solar technologies, such as photovoltaics. The term „solar punk,“ on the other hand, only emerged towards the end of the 2010s as a term for a new kind of subculture that is conceptually oriented towards the model of „steampunk,“ but for itself represents a completely different point of view and deviant ideals.

Socially, „solar punk“ is more likely to be associated with the younger generation, where it is particularly common among members of „Fridays for Future“ or other environmental protection associations. However, a „solar punk“ can also be someone who is actively involved in the development and improvement of sustainable technologies.

What are the views and ideals of a „solarpunk“?

„Solarpunks“ maintain very unique views, or preferences, in terms of aesthetics and design and technologies. At the same time, „solarpunks“ are characterized by historical influences that deviate from other subgenres. These will be explained in more detail in the following subsections.

Aesthetics & Design

Aesthetics and design in „Solarpunk“ represent a harmonious fusion of technology, community and nature. The values of „Solarpunks“ are characterized by visionary views regarding sustainable materials, high biodiversity, and alternative living models in harmony with nature. Vertical gardens, local resources, an efficient circular economy and innovative technologies are the main motives of the „solarpunk“ and are perceived as aesthetic and desirable. The design is also dominated by vibrant and versatile color palettes and in particular white, metallic gray, silicon blue and grass green.


The technologies preferred by the „solar punk“ are photovoltaics and solar thermal energy and heat generation. Furthermore, the „solar punk“ loves innovative storage media, such as hydrogen cells. In addition, there are intelligent networks and smart building technologies that make life as a whole easier and more environmentally friendly. More energy-efficient lighting systems and regenerative farming systems are also idealized by the „solar punk.“ Technologically, then, „solarpunk“ advocates for a more environmentally friendly, socially responsible, and livable future.

Historical influences

„Solarpunk“ is historically influenced by the Nouveau Arts and Crafts Movement, which originated in the mid-20th century. However, this subgenre is much less about indulging in nostalgia. Rather, „Solarpunk“ glorifies the current era in which sustainable technologies are reaching their peak to date. „Solarpunk“ cleverly combines this zeitgeist with future visions. In its approach, however, „solarpunk“ also integrates romantic ideas about eras in which polluting technologies did not yet exist.

What is the lifestyle of a „solarpunk“?

The lifestyle of a „solarpunk“ is characterized mainly by the following features:

  • Sustainability (in terms of solar energy, renewable energy, conserving natural resources, and minimizing energy consumption).
  • Sense of community (in terms of more collaboration, more focus on the importance of community, and living together peacefully in harmony with nature)
  • Green mobility (in terms of environmentally friendly means of transportation, such as bicycles, public transportation, or e-cars)
  • Creativity (in terms of inventing sustainable products or technologies)
  • Self-sufficiency (in terms of growing your own food in a sustainable way)
  • Urban green (in terms of greener downtowns, rooftop gardens, and more nature in urban areas)

Criticisms of „solar punk“

Despite the inherently positive and sustainable visions of „solarpunks“, more and more critics of this movement are also becoming vocal. The main arguments of the opponents of „solarpunk“ refer to the utopian nature of the ideas of „solarpunks“, which are seen as unworldly and harmful to the economy. At the same time, „solarpunk“ is seen as a strongly elitist movement, whose members primarily come „from a good family“ and could therefore maintain cost-intensive and alternative lifestyles in the sense of „solarpunk“, but unprivileged fellow human beings cannot. Last but not least, critics of „solarpunk“ are concerned that the technologies propagated by this subgenre may prove to be unreliable and ultimately ineffective, thus representing a potential loss of wealth.

Conclusion on the topic of „solar punk“

In summary, it can be said that „Solarpunk“ is a subgenre that is conceptually closely oriented to „Steampunk“, but for its part represents completely different views. The focus of „Solarpunk“ is on the glorification and promotion of sustainable technologies as well as on a communal coexistence in a livable world. The aesthetics and design of „solarpunk“ refer to today’s technologies, combined with either strongly futuristic or strongly ancient elements.

In addition to the subgenre of „solarpunk“, there are currently other „subgenres“, such as the already mentioned „steampunk“, but also the „dieselpunk“. Furthermore, the terms „Cli-Fi“ (for: „Climate Fiction“) and „Urban Green“ can also be mentioned in conjunction with „Solarpunk“.

Autor: Pierre von BedeutungOnline

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