Giant Mirrors to Light Up One Dark Norwegian Town

All my life I've heard jokes about eastern Kentucky communities that were wedged between mountains and got so little sunshine that folks put mirrors on the mountains to reflect light into the valleys. Now the Norwegian town of Rjukan is actually doing just that! Rjukan is situated between two tall mountains, which limit the hours of sunlight. Between September and March, the town is in constant shadow. But now huge mirrors, carried in by helicopter, will be installed to reflect sunlight onto the town square.

Three mirrors with a total surface area of about 538 square feet will sit at an angle to redirect winter sun down into the town, lighting up over 2150 square feet of concentrated space in the town square. A similar idea exists in the Italian village of Viganella, which has used brushed steel to reflect light since 2006.

A computer located in Rjukan's main town hall office will operate the solar-powered system, which continually monitors the movement of the sun and calculates the optimal positioning of the German-made mirrors to keep the square—which the city plans to turn into a skating rink—bathed in sunlight. The project will set the Norwegians back 5 million kroner (about $835,000), but 80 percent of the funds will come privately and the system will run primariy on solar and wind power.

If it works, residents of Rjukan will have to go out on the ice to get some sunshine! Link 


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