Three giant mirrors have brought light, finally, to the winter lives of Norwegians living in the town of Rjukan. Nestled in the valley between mountains Rjukan residents have lived for centuries without even a slight ray of sunlight from September to March each year.
But the dream of town founder, industrialist Sam Eyde, who built the town to house the workers of the massive hydroelectric plant at the foot of a nearby waterfall, was finally made reality by native resident and artist, Andersen.
Three huge mirrors, operating on solar power and controlled by computers in the town at the foot of the mountain over 450 metres below allow the sun’s ray to break through the shadows and shine in the town square. Now residents, who used to have to take a cable car to get into the light to obtain the essential Vitamin D, can gather in the town square to socialise and enjoy the sunlight each day.
Until now Rjukan was most famous for being the location of Hitler’s quest for the atomic bomb and the raid on the town to destroy the heavy water plant was immortalised in celluloid by Hollywood in 1965 in the movie “The Heroes of Telemark”. The adventure of the twelve Norwegian saboteurs who parachuted into the freezing tundra to destroy Hitler’s efforts will never be forgotten, and now, with the illumination that the mirrors provide to the sun-starved townsfolk during the winter months it can be truly said that the darkness has been chased away.
The sunlight now lights approximately a third of the town square giving townsfolk the much needed boost of sunshine that they had lacked until now. Residents praise the results, giving credit to Andersen who resurrected Eyde’s dream and raised the necessary sponsorship to raise the 5 million kroner needed.
The mirrors were helicoptered in and placed on the mountainside, carefully positioned to ensure maximum sunlight reached the town on the valley floor. Enthusiastic residents welcomed the mirrors with cocktails and waving of Norwegian flags when the installation went live.
And now, thanks to some clever use of solar panels more usually found providing power in sun drenched deserts, sun starved Norwegians can congregate in the sunlight, and enjoy the long winter out in the sun.