Christmas 2013 was the first Christmas the Rjukan market square was bathed in sunlight. (Photo: visitrjukan.com)
Thanks to three giant sun mirrors, the 3400 residents in the town of Rjukan can experience winter sun on the market square. The industrial city is located at the bottom of a narrow valley surrounded by high mountains which obscure the sun from late October to mid-March.
It is not only north of the Arctic Circle the sun disappears parts of the year. The low winter sun does not reach down into narrow valleys as the Rjukan valley in Telemark and the small town.
Rjukan in Tinn municipality is named after the Rjukanfossen waterfall (“the steaming waterfall”). (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The idea of solar mirrors is one hundred years old and was launched by accountant Oscar Kittilsen in an article in the local newspaper on 31 October 1913. The engineer and industrialist Sam Eyde embraced the idea, but it was not realized. Instead the Krossobanen aerial cableway was built in 1928 as a gift from Norsk Hydro to transport residents up on the mountains so that they could see the sun.
The idea was relaunched in 2003, and exactly 100 years after Kittelsen’s visionary thinking, the project was realized on 30 October 2013. Since then, the Rjukan market square has been illuminated by the winter sun.
Lights Up the Mood
The three sun mirrors are mounted 450 meters (1476 feet) straight above the Rjukan market square. 51 square meters (549 square feet) of mirrors reflects the sunlight which covers an approximately 600 square meters (6458 square feet) elliptical area. Between 80 and 100% of the captured sunlight is reflected.
The three sun mirrors light up people’s lives. (Photo: visitrjukan.com)
The mirrors follow the sun’s path throughout the year and are controlled by wireless data communication from the market square. The energy comes from the sun and wind and is accumulated in batteries.
The project did cost about 5 million kroner (740,000 dollars) and is funded with support from, among others, Tinn Municipality, Telemark County Council and Norsk Hydro.
The investment is very popular with the residents and light up the mood through a long, cold and, dark…, oh, not so dark anymore Norwegian winter.
Text by: Thor Lanesskog, ThorNews
Sources: storm.no, visitrjukan.com, Tinn Municipality