Sunless Town's Plan: Hang Mirrors on Mountains

Rjukan, Norway, lives in shadow for 5 months of the year

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 23, 2013 6:57 AM CDT | Updated Jul 27, 2013 12:07 PM CDT

(Newser) – The 3,500 residents of Rjukan, Norway, live in shadow for five months every winter, thanks to surrounding mountains that block the sun—but this year, they'll have at least one cheery spot when the shadows start to descend in September. The town square will be lighted via huge mirrors, which were delivered by helicopters to the mountains earlier this month, Popular Mechanics reports. Sunlight will bounce off the 538 square feet of surface area provided by the three mirrors to light a 2,000-square-foot circle in the town square, which the city is turning into an ice skating rink. (Gizmodo points out that the light apparently won't bring much heat with it.)

The $835,000 "Mirror Project" is pretty high-tech: It will use mostly wind and solar power, and will be run by a computer in the town hall that will monitor the movement of the sun in order to figure out how the mirrors need to be positioned at any given time. Gizmodo explains that these heliostatic mirrors are more commonly found on solar farms. Neat side note: Sam Eyde, the industrialist who basically founded the city when he put his hydroelectric factory there, wanted to install mirrors almost 100 years ago but couldn't carry out the plan due to limited technology; he built a cable car up the mountains instead. (Click to read another story that hinges on the absence of sunlight.)

  (Shutterstock)
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