A gloomy Norwegian town will receive its first ever rays of winter sunshine this year after locals set up giant mirrors to bounce light down from the mountainside.
The industrial town of Rjukan is nestled deep in a valley floor in the rugged Telemark county and with the sun moving low across the sky during winter, it gets no direct sunlight between the months of September and March.
For years the sun-starved locals have had to take a purpose-built cable car to the top of the mountain side in order to catch a few winter rays.
But that is soon set to change as for the past few weeks, helicopters have been hoisting three huge mirrors into position some 450 metres above the town at the top of the valley sides.
Known as heliostats, they have been designed to track the movement of the sun and reflect the light down directly onto Rjukan’s main square.
The idea is not new. It was first suggested in Rjukan 100 years ago by a worker at the nearby hydroelectric plant.
The plant’s founder, celebrated Norwegian engineer and industrialist Sam Eyde was concerned his workers weren’t getting enough sunshine during the winter months.
He considered the mirror idea but felt they lacked the technology to make it work so opted instead for the construction of a cable car.
In 2006, a similar project was successfully set up in the village of Viganella in northern Italy which had suffered from exactly the same problem.
A delegation from visited Viganella to see how their mirror had transformed people’s lives, and was suitably impressed.
After five years of debate, Rjukan town council finally agreed to invest the necessary 5 million Norwegian kroner (£544,000) to build the mirrors.
They are controlled by computer to follow the path of then sun, adjusting to the best angle to ensure the town square is bathed in light.
Solar panels will power equipment to automatically wash the mirrors and move them into position.
Designers hope the sunshine will revitalise the town during the winter months.
A message on the Rjukan tourist website states: ‘The square will become a sunny meeting place in a town otherwise in shadow.’
According to project coordinator, Øystein Hagan, the construction work is almost complete but it won’t be until September, when the sun disappears, that the system can be properly tested.
source: dailymail UK