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, nitrogen and particulate emissions, within the constantly tightening limit values specified by the authorities.

In 2017, our sulphur dioxide emissions decreased by over 20 per cent. The reduction in emissions is due to the efficient operation of the desulphurisation plants. Nitrogen oxide emissions remained at the previously reported level.

Acidifying emissions


 Sulphur dioxideNitrogen oxides
2013 2200 3900
2014 2000 4100
2015 1600 3600
2016 2700 3600
2017 2200 3600



 Sulphur dioxideNitrogen oxides
2013 180 300
2014 160 320
2015 130 280
2016 220 280
2017 170 280

Particulate emissions fell by about 8 per cent on the previous year due to improved desulphurisation. Efficient desulphurisation also reduces particulate emissions at the same time.

Particulate emissions


2013 130
2014 130
2015 72
2016 110
2017 100



2013 10
2014 10
2015 6
2016 10
2017 9

In 2017, we were below the emission limits in all of our power plants with the exception of Salmisaari, where the monthly emission limit for nitrogen oxides in plant A was exceeded on two occasions. The exceedances did not cause any harm to the environment or human health. We always report any exceedances to the authorities.

We are constantly making changes in order to reach the tightening emission limit values. In 2017, we replaced the fuel of the Jakomäki heating plant with low-sulphur fuel oil, which will reduce sulphur dioxide 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 produced energy. In 2017, the calculation was specified by including in the emissions of electricity used in heat pumps and district heat pumping.


By-products and waste are utilised

The by-products of energy production mainly consist of ashes and the end product created in flue gas desulphurisation. In 2017, we produced a total of 119,000 tonnes of by-products (116,000 tonnes in 2016). The use of by-products in landfill structures continued, due to which the utilisation rate increased to 91 per cent (71 per cent in 2016).  

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 storageDisposalUtilisation
2013 9600 46500 48900
2014 8400 38500 47900
2015 5000 14700 50000
2016 9400 31400 75100
2017 10500 600 108200

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 2017, we produced 5,600 tonnes of waste (8,300 tonnes in 2016), 83% of which was utilised as material and 7% as energy (82% and 1% in 2016). The amount of waste decreased especially on worksites. We have reduced the amount of landfill waste by increasing waste-to-energy use.

Waste produced in Helen’s properties and, from 2016, in the energy network areas, tonnes  

 Hazardous wasteLandfillUtilisation as energyUtilisation as material
2013 340 770 20 780
2014 2310 1160 130 3170
2015 240 1270 170 950
2016 450 1030 60 6800
2017 240 360 380 4610

Low impact on watercourses

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 2017, a total of 120 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. 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.

Environmental deviations are investigated

In 2017, there were three environmental deviations. We investigate all deviations and, if necessary, we will change our procedures in order to prevent them.

In 2017, two refrigerant leaks occurred in the Salmisaari cooling plant in connection with the refilling of the cooling compressor. A total of 55 kilograms of refrigerant was leaked. Refrigerant measurements are taken from the cooling equipment, and the functioning of the equipment is checked at regular intervals.

At the Vuosaari power plant, 5 cubic metres of sulphuric acid leaked into the protection basin. The leak did not cause harm to the employees or the environment. We will take the possibility of malfunction into account in tank inspections.