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The Limitations of Solar: Intermittency, Reliability and Capacity

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solar panel - what to do with unused solar power

In recent years, solar energy has gained significant attention as a viable and sustainable solution for power generation. It has numerous benefits, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering electricity costs. However, it is important to recognize that solar energy has its limitations and alone it may not always be enough when considering factors like resiliency, sustainability and capacity. Let’s explore the limitations of relying on solar energy alone and why energy diversification is key.

Solar Intermittency

A major limitation of relying solely on solar energy is its intermittency. Solar power generation is directly tied to the availability of sunlight, resulting in fluctuations in energy production throughout the day. Additionally, solar energy generation is non-existent during the night and can be significantly reduced during adverse weather conditions. This intermittency poses considerable challenges when aiming to maintain a consistent and reliable power supply with solar alone. It becomes particularly pronounced in regions with limited sunshine or those prone to frequent cloud cover, as it further restricts the amount of solar energy that can be harnessed.

Conducting an energy assessment and implementing measures to reduce energy consumption, along with integrating multiple renewable energy generation sources such as wind, combined heat & power (CHP), etc., can help tackle this limitation.


Solar-only systems rely on the grid for uninterrupted power supply, limiting them in the event of power outages. Solar energy alone cannot sustain a home or facility due to its reliance on the grid connection. This grid dependence limits the reliability of solar during unforeseen disruptions or emergencies. To ensure a reliable and resilient energy system, alternative sources of power, such as backup generators, can be integrated to supplement solar energy during periods of low or no solar generation, or in cases of power outages. Even more resilient energy storage solutions, such as microgrids, allow excess solar energy to be stored for later use, enabling a more consistent power supply even when solar generation is limited or unavailable.

By combining multiple energy sources and incorporating energy storage, the limitations of solar energy intermittency and grid dependence can be effectively addressed. This approach provides a more robust and reliable energy system that can adapt to varying conditions, optimize energy usage and enhance the overall sustainability and resiliency of the power supply.

Location and Capacity

While solar energy has witnessed advancements in efficiency and affordability in recent years, its power generation capacity is still limited in some respects. Generating a significant amount of energy through solar power becomes challenging in densely populated areas due to the substantial space requirement it demands. Geographic regions such as cities or areas with land scarcity must be creative with their solar placements, due to factors like shading, structural limitations or insufficient space.

At EnTech Solutions, energy modeling systems like Energy DNA™ help us develop different scenarios to determine the appropriate size of solar generation required. Still, relying solely on solar power might not yield an optimal return on investment and could potentially restrict the overall power generation capacity required to meet growing energy demands. Within the Energy DNA software, scenarios with different renewable generation sources, energy storage capabilities and even added future energy loads can be modeled to determine what is right for the location and capacity.

Solar energy is an impressive technology with vast potential; however, it is essential to be aware of its limitations and consult with energy experts before embarking on your energy journey. Relying solely on solar may present challenges related to intermittency, resiliency and limited power generation and capacity. If you are ready to take the next step and find out what path is best for you to ensure a sustainable and resilient energy future, contact EnTech Solutions. We can provide energy expert guidance to determine the most suitable renewable energy generation sources for your specific needs today and in the future.