Sunday, February 06, 2011
Here is a particularly interesting article from the German press today, on the use of heliostats for both personal and public use. Villages in hilly and mountainous areas tend to be particularly depressing during the winter. Because villages in these areas are naturally located near the base where transport is easier and rivers tend to be, they also tend to be located in the darkest parts while higher up where nobody lives there is still a good amount of sunlight. The solution? Building a mirror to reflect the sunlight below. The mirror needs to be large, and its heading also needs to be controlled in order to continually reflect the sunlight onto the house or village below.
A few years after the installation of the mirror in Viganella the village still has all the regular problems one would expect with a village of its size (young people leaving for opportunities in the city, essential utilities still missing) and though the odd tourist comes in every once in a while to view the mirror, tourism has not exactly boomed. But the mirror does continue to work, and the 83 long days of shadow during the winter are now a thing of the past. This video shows the installation and the first usage of the mirror back in 2006 - skip ahead to about 5:15 to see the reaction to the mirror after it is set up and begins reflecting sunlight below.