Environmental impacts

Flue gas emissions from energy production constitute our most significant environmental impact.

Environmental impacts

We aim to keep the emissions of our power plants having an impact on air quality, i.e. sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions, within the constantly tightening limit values specified by the authorities.

In 2018, our sulphur dioxide emissions decreased by about 5 per cent on the previous year. Nitrogen oxide emissions remained at the previously level. The reduction in sulphur dioxide emissions was due to the efficient operation of the cleaning equipment and the increased use of low-sulphur fuels.

Acidifying emissions


  Sulphur dioxide Nitrogen oxides
2014 2000 4100
2015 1600 3600
2016 2700 3600
2017 2200 3600
2018 2100 3600



  Sulphur dioxide Nitrogen oxidies
2014 160 320
2015 130 280
2016 220 280
2017 170 280
2018 160 260

Particulate emissions fell by about 14 per cent on the previous year due to improved desulphurisation. Efficient desulphurisation also reduces particulate emissions at the same time.

Particulate emissions


2014 130
2015 72
2016 110
2017 100
2018 86



2014 10
2015 6.2
2016 9.8
2017 8.6
2018 7.2

In the Hanasaari B power plant, the monthly emission limit for particulates was exceeded once during 2018. The exceedance did not cause any harm to the environment or human health. Emissions in other power plants were below the emission limits. We always report any exceedances to the authorities.

We are constantly developing our operations in order to reach the tightening emission limit values. In 2018, we introduced low-sulphur fuel oil at the Jakomäki heating plant, which will reduce the plant’s emissions.

We monitor the emissions of our power plants according to the monitoring plans approved by the authorities. An independent accredited tester ensures the quality of our measurements each year.

* Acidifying emissions and particulate emissions mg/kWh are calculated by dividing the emissions of our energy production and co-owned production by the total energy sold. Production and distribution losses have been taken into account when calculating the amount of energy produced. In 2017, the calculation was specified by including the electricity used by heat pumps and district heat pumping in the calculation of emissions.


The by-products of energy production mainly consist of ashes and the end product created in flue gas desulphurisation. In 2018, we produced a total of 114,000 tonnes of by-products (119,000 tonnes in 2017). Utilisation of by-products in landfill structures continued and the use of bottom ash in earth construction was a success, as a result of which the utilisation rate increased to 97 per cent (91 per cent in 2017).

We aim to utilise by-products as efficiently as possible. By-products are used, e.g. in cement manufacture and earth construction. Utilisation of by-products reduces the use of pristine mineral aggregate and soil.

Utilisation of by-products, tonnes

  Intermediate storage Disposal Utilisation
2014 8400 38500 47900
2015 5000 14700 50000
2016 9400 31400 75100
2017 10500 600 108200
2018 1000 2000 110700


Our operations also produce various types of waste. Primarily, we aim to prevent the production of waste. Any waste we produce is sorted and recycled wherever possible. We maintain waste bookkeeping and hand over waste only to transport companies that are in the waste management register and to recipients entitled to receive the waste in question.

In 2018, we produced 4,800 tonnes of waste (5,600 tonnes in 2017), 77 per cent of which was utilised as material and 10 cent as energy (88 per cent and 7 per cent in 2017). The amount of waste decreased especially on worksites. Utilisation of waste as energy increased, and the amount of waste taken to the landfill was lower than in the previous years.

Utilisation of waste produced in Helen’s properties and, from 2016, in the energy network areas, tonnes

  Hazardous waste Landfill Utilisation as energy Utilisation as material
2014 2310 1160 130 3170
2015 240 1270 170 950
2016 450 1030 60 6800
2017 240 360 380 4610
2018 450 130 490 3710


The majority of the heat we produce is utilised as district heat, which considerably diminishes the volume of heat conducted into the sea and, that way, the impacts on watercourses. We also utilise the heat of purified waste water in the Katri Vala heating and cooling plant, which reduces the volume of excess heat ending up in the sea.

In 2018, a total of 126 gigawatt-hours of excess heat and cooling energy from power plants and cooling centres was released into the sea. This is 1.0 per cent of the used fuel energy (120 gigawatt-hours or 1.0 per cent in 2017). Since year 2000, the annual load has varied between 120 and 2,200 gigawatt-hours.

The principal impacts of our energy production on watercourses are the result of conducting cooling water, i.e. warmed-up sea water, to the sea. When studying the impacts of power plants on watercourses, no eutrophication impacts have been detected. Eutrophication in the Helsinki sea areas is caused by other loading, basically by waste waters from households and by scattered loading.

In addition to cooling waters, small amounts of waste and washing waters from power plants, as well as neutralised washing waters from wastewater treatment plants and laboratories, are conducted into the sea. The flow rate, temperature, temperature rise, acidity and hydrocarbon, i.e. oil contents, of the waters conducted into the sea are monitored and reported to the authorities. The entry of oil into the waterways is prevented with oil separation pools equipped with alarm systems.


In 2018, there were two environmental non-conformations. We investigate all non-conformations and, if necessary, we will change our procedures in order to prevent them.

In February 2018, ash escaped into the environment from the chimney of the Munkkisaari heating plant in connection with test runs. In October 2018, at the Hanasaari heating plant, one cubic metre of glycol-water solution entered the sewer as a result of human error. Due to both of these non-conformations, technical changes were made in the plants’ systems in order to prevent similar incidents in the future. The guidelines and procedures were also amended. The incidents did not cause any harm to human health or the environment.