When did solar energy start getting efficient enough to be profitable?



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    In 1892, with photovoltaic efficiencies of about 2%, Aubrey Eneas thought he could make money from solar energy, and the Solar Motor Company was born.  He sold two solar systems in all, and they were destroyed by wind and hail, respectively.  In 1954, Bell Laboratories accidentally discovered silicon as a semi-conductor, and the efficiency of solar panels rose to about 6%.  Two years later the first commercial solar cell was manufactured and made available to the public for $300 per watt.  By then it was being used in toys and radios.  Since 1954, research has made solar cells about 4 times as efficient and much more affordable.

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