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Light Research @ MMU

Solar Mirror Lights Gloomy Norwegian Valley

From Lars Frers: The town of Rjukan was established about 100 years ago to harness the energy of the Rjukan waterfall by what  then was the world’s largest hydroelectric power plant. Rjukan lies at the bottom of a deep valley between Gaustatoppen, Southern Norway’s highest mountain, and the Hardangervidda mountain plateau. While this location grants exceptional access to hydroelectric power (and is the basis for a nomination as UNESCO World Heritage Site), it shuts out the sun from September to March. The town’s population has long struggled with the dark side of industrialization, even though the town’s founder, industrialist and head of Norsk Hydro Sam Eyde, has built an aerial tramway to lift people up into the surroundings of the sunny mountain plateau – to keep them happy, healthy and productive. Before the construction of this tramway, an employee proposed the idea of installing mirrors to reflect the sunlight from the sunlit mountainside into the town. This idea was considered by Eyde but set aside in favor of the tramway.










The appeal of the idea never faded completely, and a couple of years ago a local artist gathered new support for the project. Although the project faced stiff opposition because of its high cost ($851,000), it was finally completed in 2013 with a public inauguration on October 30th – 100 years after the employee’s idea was published in the local newspaper. The mirror consists of three electronically adjusted 17 square metre panels, which together light an area of about 600 square metres in the town square. That might sound like too large an area, but as the photographs show, it does make quite a difference. When the sun finally came through the clouds on the day of the opening ceremony, the crowd was cheering and you could witness the odd native shedding a tear of joy. (The warming effect however, is only just noticeable – even for sensitive cheeks.)Rjukan4Rjukan2


November 7th, 2013 - 08:56am

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