Climate-neutral energy

Our long-term target is to produce energy in a climate-neutral way.

Climate neutral energy

Climate-neutral energy production means production that does not increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and therefore does not add to global warming. Our target by 2025 is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 40 per cent compared to the 1990 levels, to increase the share of renewable energy to 25 per cent, and to halve the amount of coal we use.

More renewable energy

In 2017, the share of renewable energy in our energy mix increased to 12 per cent. We also generate renewable energy from hydropower, heat pumps, wood pellets, wind power and solar energy.

In 2018, the share of renewable energy will increase due to the completion of the Salmisaari wood pellet heating plant and the Esplanade heating and cooling plant.

Share of renewable energy

2014 7
2015 9
2016 10
2017 12
Target 2025 25

We produce energy mainly in our power plants and heating plants in different parts of Helsinki. We also supplement this with production from outside the Helsinki region.

In 2017, we produced 6,300 gigawatt-hours of electricity, 7,100 gigawatt-hours of heat and 140 gigawatt-hours of cooling.

Origin of district heat, GWh

  Natural gas Coal Heat pump Bio Oil
2013 3420 3140 290 0 110
2014 3290 3080 380 0 140
2015 3380 2550 420 20 50
2016 2190 4150 490 100 170
2017 1980 4320 570 150 70

Origin of electricity, GWh

  Natural gas Coal Nuclear power Renewables
2013 3570 1500 1440 740
2014 3240 1530 1470 780
2015 3460 1240 1390 890
2016 1950 2090 1460 960
2017 1790 2140 1370 990

See the specific emissions and origin of the electricity, heat and cooling sold by us.

In 2017, the share of energy we produced in co-combustion of coal and wood pellets increased and, correspondingly, the share of natural gas production decreased. This trend, which started in 2016, is due to changes in the energy market, which have resulted in higher profitability of energy produced from coal. In the next few years, the share of renewables will increase with the commissioning of new heat pump plant and bioenergy heating plants. The share of coal will fall significantly in the future when the Hanasaari power plant will be decommissioned according to our plan by the end of 2024.

The amount of energy we produce with heat pumps also increased in 2017. We produced more heat with heat pumps than ever before, 570 gigawatt-hours. In 2018, the amount of energy we produce with heat pumps will increase further when the Esplanade heating and cooling plant is completed.

We continued co-combustion of wood pellets in the Hanasaari and Salmisaari power plants. We also started trial operation of the Salmisaari wood pellet heating plant towards the end of 2017. We used more wood pellets in 2017 than before, a total of 46,000 tonnes (38,000 tonnes in 2016). We continue to further increase the use of pellets in energy production.

Energy produced from wood pellets and biogas

2015 28
2016 180
2017 230

We produced more energy from wind power than before, a total of 39 gigawatt-hours. We procured wind power through our associated company Hyötytuuli Oy. The production volume increased because Hyötytuuli's wind farms in Raahe and in Tahkoluoto in Pori were completed during 2017.

We are also increasing solar energy production. Our solar power plants in Kivikko and Suvilahti produced a total of 0.96 gigawatt-hours of electricity in 2017 (0.91 gigawatt-hours in 2016). We also built the first power plants generating solar power for our customers' properties.

We continued solar heat recovery from properties with the aid of district cooling. We use district cooling for recycling the heat produced by the sun, machines and equipment, and people.

More renewable energy in the coming years

The most significant strategic policy with respect to the development of Helen's energy production structure is our long-term target of climate-neutral energy production. Our target for year 2025 is to increase the use of renewable energy, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and to halve the amount of coal we use. Therefore, we are preparing for the decommissioning of the Hanasaari power plant by the end of 2024.

We aim to make progressive investments in reducing emissions and increasing renewable energy, and we make use of all the opportunities offered by new technologies. We also develop new energy production solutions together with our customers.

During 2017, we invested about EUR 30 million in replacing fossil fuels: we were building our new wood pellet heating plant and heating and cooling plant. The Salmisaari wood pellet heating plant will be completed in early 2018, and it is one of the largest investments in renewable energy in Finland. The plant's output is 100 megawatts and it will generate renewable district heat for the needs of about 25,000 one-bedroom flats. The pellet-fired heating plant will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 58,000 tonnes a year.

The construction work of the Esplanade heating and cooling plant also progressed to plan. The heating and cooling plant has two industrial-scale heat pumps that produce both heat and cooling. The new heat pumps will be able to recycle increasing amounts of waste energy from properties, homes and data centres. To be completed in spring 2018, the thermal output of the plant is 22 megawatt-hours and its cooling output is 15 megawatts. The investment will reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 20,000 tonnes per year.

During 2017, we continued the preparation of our major investment programme. In the next stage, we are planning bioenergy heating plants, which would be completed in phases and the first one of them would be commissioned by 2024. The planned areas are in Vuosaari, Patola and Tattarisuo. The bioenergy heating plants will replace coal use and ensure sufficient district heat supplies.

Promoting new solutions

The energy system in Helsinki is flexible and highly suitable for enabling various renewable and low-emission energy solutions.

The heating and cooling networks are independent of the fuel used. In addition to increased use of biofuels, we are investigating, for example, extensive utilisation of various kinds of heat pumps, solar heat and geothermal heat. We are also evaluating the possibilities offered by demand response, distributed generation, storage, and energy saving.

We are planning to build a large energy storage facility in disused underground oil caverns in Mustikkamaa deep in the bedrock of Helsinki. The planned storage facility could hold about 260,000 cubic metres of water for storing 12 gigawatt-hours of heat. The Mustikkamaa heat storage facility would be about ten times the size of the heat storage facility located at the Vuosaari power plant. The charging and discharging capacity of the heat storage facility would be 120 megawatts, i.e. discharging and charging with full capacity would take four days. During the coldest days of the winter, the start-up of individual natural gas and oil-fired heating plants could be avoided by using the storage facility. We will go ahead with the project if its technical and financial preconditions are met.

We are also planning to build a seasonal heat storage facility in the disused oil caverns in Kruunuvuorenranta. In the solution, the large caverns of the seasonal storage facility of Kruunuvuorenranta will be filled with sea water, which is heated by the sun in the summer and utilised in the winter as an energy source for heat pumps. The total volume of the caverns is about 300,000 cubic metres. We will go ahead with the project if its technical and financial preconditions are met.

We continued the use of the Suvilahti electricity storage facility, completed in 2016, as well as the development of related business models. The electricity storage facility has concurrently produced rapid frequency-regulated power control for the needs of the transmission system and reactive power compensation and voltage maintenance for the needs of the distribution network. The electricity storage facility has also locally improved the utilisation of the Suvilahti solar power plant by balancing its production. 

In October 2017, we opened Finland's first two-way charging point for electric vehicles in Suvilahti in Helsinki. The charging point enables not only charging of electric vehicles, but also using them as an electricity storage unit and utilising them in the regulation of the electricity system.

Construction of wind power in Helsinki is also an option. If suitable sites are found and the investments prove to be worthwhile, we will be interested in building wind power in the sea area outside Helsinki.

Energy efficiency is the backbone of our operations

Combined heat and power (CHP) generation together with district heat and the rapidly increasing district cooling form the basis for an energy-efficient energy system in Helsinki.

Our long-term energy-efficiency work was awarded when the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the Energy Authority and Motiva acknowledged Helen for its commendable energy-efficiency work during the energy efficiency agreement period 2008–2016. Helen's most significant individual project during the agreement period was the Katri Vala heating and cooling plant, which recycles waste heat for reutilisation.

We aim to improve energy efficiency by 5.4 per cent from the 2015 level by 2025. We strive to further increase the efficiency of utilising waste heat and recycled heat, to optimise production and to enhance the use of energy for internal consumption at substations. The next power plant energy audit will be carried out at our largest production unit, Vuosaari B.

During 2017 we further improved energy efficiency with a number of measures. We completed the modernisation of the Mankala hydropower plant, as a result of which the utilisation of the power plant will improve by about 3–4 per cent. This corresponds to an increase of approximately 6 gigawatt-hours in annual electricity generation. We also improved the efficiency of production and distribution with changes in the operating methods of power plants, equipment replacements and refurbishment of the district heating network.

In 2017, the efficiency of energy production at the Helen Group was 91.1 per cent.