For the first time for a Norway town, winter sun has been harnessed by the use of giant mirrors, which reflect the sun’s rays. The people of Rjukan in Norway are celebrating that they finally have winter sun in their town center.
The problem has been that Rjukan lies in a deep valley, and during the six months of winter, the surrounding mountains cast a deep shadow over the town, even at midday.
The idea of using mirrors to bring winter sun sunshine to Rjukan was first proposed 100 years ago by a Norwegian engineer and industrialist, Sam Eyde. Steinar Bergsland, mayor of the Tinn municipality which includes Rjukan, said, “A hundred-year-old idea has become reality today.”
At the time, the technology did not exist to fulfill his vision of harnessing the rays of the winter sun. Instead, a cable car was constructed to bring the inhabitants of this small Norway to the top of an adjacent mountain for a fix of winter sun.
The problem of towns being in shadow in the winter is not unique to Norway. In Italy, the small town of Viganella in the Piedmont region suffered the same fate.
But, by the beginning of the 21st Century, the concept of using giant mirrors to reflect the winter sun had became a viable option, and they installed a similar sun mirror in 2006.
Around a 1000 of Rjukan’s inhabitants gathered in the main square on Wednesday for the official inauguration of their mirrors and cheered when the main square became bathed in sun.
The three mirrors, 17 sq meters each and costing a total of $ 851,000, were brought in by helicopter and placed on a mountain about 450 meters above the center of the town. Computers control the movement of the mirrors to follow the course of the sun to reflect sunshine to Rjukan’s main square below.
As the sun’s reflected rays illuminated the town square for the first time, a band played the song “Let the Sunshine In” while Rjukan’s townspeople cheered. Many hundreds of children wearing sunglasses and with yellow suns painted on their faces, waved the flag of Norway.
So, at least for this Norway town, winter sun will be enjoyed as never before
The mayor commented that now Rjukan is a place “where the impossible has become possible.”