Volume 48, Issue 12- December 2013

Global Update

Norwegian Town of Rjukan Puts Sun Mirrors to Good Use

Moving the steep, surrounding mountains that deny sunlight into the valley for nearly half the year wasn’t possible. As such, Martin Andersen assumed the mantle on realizing an existing idea that would instead bring the sunlight to the Norwegian village of Rjukan.

Three computer-driven sun mirrors—or heliostats—have proven to be a solution to a vexing problem that has plagued the small, industrial town for a century. Placed at the top of a steep mountain wall more than 1,300 feet above the town, the three sophisticated mirrors that just went into operation in October are designed to follow the sun’s movement over the horizon and reflect its rays into Rjukan’s market square.. The mirrors automatically rotate clockwise to ensure a 6,500-square foot beam of sunshine in an area of the square.

“It will be strongest in the middle, and will get weaker and weaker out to the edges. You will have the sensation of sun when you are in the middle. You will feel the heat and you will see shadows,”Andersen said in an interview with UPI.

Rjukan, however, is not the first sunlight-starved city to have turned to mirrors for relief. Viganella, Italy is likewise situated in a deep valley where mountains block the sun’s rays for up to six months during the winter season. Viganella completed its huge computer-controlled mirror in 2006.

Funding for Rjukan nearly $800,000 project came from Norsk Hydro, the power company that founded the town in 1905, public art body Koro and the municipality itself. Town officials expect “The Solspeil,” as the project is officially called, to strengthen its identity and attraction.

The idea is hardly new as town founder Sam Eyde first conceived the concept of developing a sun mirror in 1913. His successors later built a gondola to transport Rjukan’s inhabitants over the mountains to the winter sunshine, but it’s only now that Eyde’s vision has become technologically feasible.

Andersen, a local artist who lives in Rjukan, began championing the cause in 2005 to have the mirrors built.

The mirrors, which are each roughly 56 feet in area, sit on two axes that control its movements, while a previously-installed computer program tracks the sun’s route for the entire year, according to the town website. The mirrors, which automatically clean themselves, are guided by wireless computer communication from the market square below and powered by solar and wind energy.

Elumatec of Germany Seeks Insolvency

Elumatec is seeking insolvency protection from creditors, but the German-based company says business remains strong, including the operations of Elumatec North America.

“Business is going strong to the point that we are able to finance activities in our own home market and at our foreign subsidiaries by our means,” says managing director Britta Hubner.

All employment contracts were to remain in force, according to the release. Company officials cited a failing economy and the holiday period as among the factors for the cash-flow problems that forced the company to initiate insolvency proceedings in late July.

Hubner reported that corporate subsidiaries and branches abroad were doing “better than expected.” Without filing their own restructuring or insolvency petitions, the companies were able to finance and continue their operations independent of the parent company, the release said.

Formal insolvency proceedings for Elumatec began October 1.

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