Greece: how the circular economy is helping people enjoy a natural beauty spot

We’ve used damaged electricity poles to create a picnic area near our Soros wind farm. Our first circular economy project in Greece has enabled us to “win together” with the local community.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” as the old saying goes. It can also be an excellent starting point to promote sustainability and, at the same time, help people discover and enjoy a place of great natural beauty. This is exactly what has happened at our Soros wind farm in the Evros district in Thrace, the easternmost region of continental Greece, where we created our first circular economy project in the country. Using scrap wood from damaged electricity poles, we’ve created a fully equipped picnic area for hikers and visitors, which, at the same time, also serves as a useful wildfire observation point.

A kiosk for sustainability

We have five wind farms in Thrace, for a total capacity of 63 MW, which are regularly checked and inspected. That’s how in 2021 we identified 13 wooden medium-voltage electricity poles that had been compromised by exposure to various natural phenomena, including damage from woodpeckers that inhabit the area. Talking with our colleagues at O&M about what to do with the old poles, we came up with the idea of building a kiosk where visitors could take a break and enjoy the beautiful view; there were no longer any picnic spots in the area as the few remaining ones had been destroyed in recent years. What’s more, this observation point could also be used for spotting nascent wildfires. So we officially submitted a project to the municipal council and the authority responsible for local parks and, once it had been approved, we hired a construction firm to build the picnic area with a kiosk, tables, benches and other amenities. The leftover wood was donated to local livestock farmers who used it to reinforce their animal enclosures. We opened the new area in May and it was warmly welcomed by the local residents, who will benefit most from it.

Operation “Win together”

In short, the initiative we developed at the Soros wind farm has produced numerous positive results. First of all, the local community now benefits from a picnic area that had been needed for some time and that can also be enjoyed by tourists. The site also serves as a lookout point for wildfires in the park. Furthermore, several tons of wood were prevented from ending up in landfills, thereby giving it new life, while a local company was commissioned to perform the work. All in all, this was a win-win scenario – or a “Win together” solution, to quote our Compass – one that has created genuine shared value with the local community.