Mirrors bring the sun back to town

MICHAEL DALY
Last updated 12:51 17/07/2013
Norway mirror
visitnorway.com

SUN SHINE: An illustration of how the Mirror Project will send sun into the town square.

italy mirror
Reuters
BRIGHT LIGHTS: A paraglider flies next to a mirror high Mount Scagiola above the tiny Italian village of Viganella, which suffers from a similar problem to Rjukan.

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The winter sun is set to shine on a small Norwegian town for the first time in more than 100 years thanks to giant mirrors.

Rjukan, which sits at the bottom of a narrow valley in the mountains of Telemark County, gets no direct sunlight between September and March.

To overcome the gloom, the local council has spent about 5 million Norwegian kronor (NZ$1.06m) placing three giant mirrors on the valley sides, about 450 metres above the town.

Helicopters have been used to install mirrors which will track the movement of the sun and reflect the light directly into Rjukan's main square, saving sun-starved locals from making an annual journey up the mountain to get some heat.

A local entrepreneur has been working on the project since 2003.

Norwegian Broadcasting said the idea was first floated back in 1913 by a local factory worker. It was considered by industrialist Sam Eyde who was worried by the lack of winter sun for the residents of the town where he founded multinational firm Norsk Hydro.

Eyde chose to build the gondola which ferries residents out of the valley to higher areas where the sun does reach.

Solar cells will power the equipment that automatically wash and adjust the mirrors. The official opening will be left until later in the year when the sun disappears from the town and the full effects of the mirrors can be seen.

Before going ahead with the project a delegation from Rjukan visited Viganella in northern Italy, where a similar project was set up in 2006.

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