The Berman Affect

It was during the late 1960s that Elliot Berman was looking for funding for a new method for producing the silicon stock in a ribbon process, but he was unable to find interested parties.

However, during a chance meeting with a team at Exxon, the case was made that by the year 2000 the cost of electrical power would be much more expensive and that this increase in price would make solar or ppv technology much more attractive. Among the new energy sources, solar was the most interesting. B erman joined the Exxon team and began working on the technology more closely.

His first success came when Berman noticed that the process of solar panel production could be enhanced by printing the electric diodes directly only the surface of a panel, and then later, that the cells could be mounted in arrays, thus removing the necessity of complicated back wiring. This made the production process much easier and in the end, the team settled on a printed circuit board for the solar panel, which had acrylic plastic on the front, with a silicone based glue holding the two cells together.

The next success came with regards to solar panel price points. It was noted that the silicon that was being used for solar panel production at the time, was of too high a quality, and that it would be possible to use the excess off-cuts (so to speak) from the electronics industry to make the solar panels, without a noticeable degradation in the panel’s solar efficiency.

As a result of these changes in both the production and pricing of solar panel technology, the industry saw the cost of producing solar energy go down five-fold in the space of just two-years.

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