Monday, November 21, 2005

Austrian village to bring in the light

Company to use mirror trick to enlighten Austrian village
Small town is hoping reflector technology will bring sunlight to its dark winters
Associated Press

RATTENBERG, AUSTRIA - The sun has stopped shining in Rattenberg. But with the aid of a few mirrors, the winter darkness that grips this small town could soon be brightened up with pockets of sunshine.

That's because sunshine is plentiful less than a 10 minutes' walk from the town and from Rat Mountain, the 3,000-foot hill that blocks its sunlight between November and February each year.

The solution: 30 heliostats, essentially rotating mirrors, mounted on a hillside to grab sunshine off reflectors from the neighboring village of Kramsach.
Bartenbach Lichtlabor GmbH, the Austrian company behind the idea, has already used mirrors for lighting projects around the world — sunshine into European basements and railroad stations or nighttime illumination of mosques in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.

It's costly, however. The European Union is footing half the $2.4 million bill, and the company says it will pay the $600,000 cost of planning the project, gambling that success will attract more business.
Rattenberg was built between the hill to the south and the Inn River to the north starting in the 1300s for protection against marauders. Back then, lack of sunshine was a small price to pay for security.

Other suggestions for improving the village included removing the mountain, changing the axis of rotation of the Earth or treating the drinking water with antidepressants. Some have even suggested negotiating with the marauders so they do not need to live there anymore. Said one resident, "700 years is long enough to live in the dark." | Company to use mirror trick to enlighten Austrian village


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