Carbon-Neutral Energy

Our target is to achieve carbon neutrality by year 2035.

katri vala

Carbon-neutral energy production means production that does not increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and that way warm up the climate. 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.

We are preparing to phase out coal use by 2029 in accordance with the Government’s policy. The use of coal is phased out in stages: The Hanasaari power plant will be closed by the end of 2024. Heat production in Hanasaari will be replaced with heat recycling with heat pumps, energy storage, and a bioenergy heating plant planned for Vuosaari. Salmisaari will remain an important energy production area where coal will be replaced by 2029. The planning of these solutions is in full swing.  Energy production will be carbon neutral by 2035. We will reduce at least 80 per cent of emissions ourselves and the rest will be offset, i.e. Helen ensures that emissions reductions will be made elsewhere.

Energy production in 2019

In 2019, the share of energy produced with renewable energy was 12 per cent, which was at the same level as in the previous year (2018: 12%). Emission-free production accounted for 23 per cent. We generate emission-free energy from nuclear power and renewable energy: hydropower, wood pellets, wind power and solar energy, as well as from various waste energy flows with heat pumps.


2016 10
2017 12
2018 12
2019 12
Target 2025 25

We produce energy mainly in our power plants and heating plants in different parts of Helsinki. We also supplement our production from outside Helsinki through our associated companies and purchases.

In 2019, our production volumes fell compared with the previous year due to a warmer than normal start and end to the year and the electricity market situation. We produced 6,520 gigawatt-hours of electricity (2018: 6,730 gigawatt-hours), 7,000 gigawatt-hours of heat (2018: 7,140 gigawatt-hours) and 173 gigawatt-hours of cooling (2018: 180 gigawatt-hours).

Origin of district heat, GWh

  Natural gas Coal Heat pump Bio Oil
2015 3380 2550 420 20 50
2016 2190 4150 490 100 170
2017 1980 4320 570 150 70
2018 2510 3850 570 190 80
2019 2270 3940 545 185 60


  Natural gas Coal Nuclear power Renewables
2015 3460 1240 1390 890
2016 1950 2090 1460 960
2017 1790 2140 1370 990
2018 2290 2100 1460 880
2019 2270 1980 1520 820

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

In 2019, the amount of energy we produced with coal decreased by 1 per cent to 5,920 gigawatt-hours and the amount of natural gas production fell by 6 per cent to 4,490 gigawatt-hours. The change is due to the energy market situation. The share of coal will fall significantly in the future when the Hanasaari power plant will be decommissioned by the end of 2024 and we are preparing to phase out coal in 2029 in accordance with the Government policy.  

We produced 1,520 gigawatt-hours of nuclear power through Teollisuuden Voima Oy and purchases. Nuclear power production fell by 1 per cent. Hydropower production amounted to 700 GWh (2018: 760 GWh), a fall of 8 per cent due to a dry hydrological year.  

The amount of energy we produced from various types of waste heat, such as heat from purified waste water and excess heat of properties using heat pumps, fell by 5 per cent to 540 gigawatt-hours (2018: 570 gigawatt-hours). The use of heat pumps decreased as a result of the high price of electricity. Heat demand was also lower.

The amount of energy we produced from wood pellets was 230 GWh, up by 5 per cent on the previous year. We managed to partly resolve some of the technical problems with the functioning of the Salmisaari pellet-fired heating plant, which was inaugurated in 2018. We continued co-combustion of wood pellets also in the Hanasaari and Salmisaari power plants, but total energy production was down compared with the previous year. We did not use biogas in 2019.

Energy produced from wood pellets and biogas

2016 180
2017 230
2018 220
2019 230

We produced more energy from wind power than before, a total of 70 gigawatt-hours (2018: 60 gigawatt-hours). We procured wind power through our associated company Hyötytuuli Oy. The amount of production grew because Hyötytuuli Oy, of which we are part owners, acquired the Jokela wind farm in autumn 2018. Wind power production is expected to grow also in 2020.  

We also increased solar energy production. Our solar power plants in Kivikko and Suvilahti and in Messukeskus, which was completed in summer 2019, produced a total of 1.0 gigawatt-hours of electricity (2018: 1.0 gigawatt-hours) in 2019. We built solar power plants at our customers’ properties and continued solar heat recovery from buildings with the aid of district cooling.

Investment in low-emission energy production

The target of a climate-neutral energy system directs the development of our future energy system. We aim to make progressive investments in reducing emissions and increasing renewable energy, and we utilise of all the opportunities offered by new technologies. We also develop new energy production solutions together with our customers and partners. New initiatives in the utilisation of industrial waste heat, sea water and geothermal heat were a significant step towards carbon neutrality.    

During 2019, we invested EUR 56 million in the reduction of emissions and the increase of low-emission energy production. The greatest investments were the pellet-fired heating plant, cavern heat storage facility and heat pump in the Keskuskatu cooling plant.  

The role of excess heat and heat pumps in a carbon-neutral future will be great, and new heat sources are sought constantly.  

The excess heat of the roasting process in Paulig’s Vuosaari roastery is recovered and used in the district heating network. This is enough to meet the annual heat demand of 1,000 one-bedroom apartments.

We are building a new heat pump at the Katri Vala heating and cooling plant. The district heat output of the new heat pump is 18 megawatts and its cooling output is 12 megawatts. As a result, the thermal output of the Katri Vala heating and cooling plant will rise to 123 megawatts and its cooling output to 82 megawatts. The production volume of the plant will grow by up to 30 per cent. The value of the investment is about EUR 20 million and, as a result, our carbon dioxide emissions will fall by 65,000 tonnes per year. The heat pump will be completed in 2021.  

Helen will build a heat pump in connection with the Vuosaari power plant, utilising the power plant’s own cooling water circulation and the heat of sea water as heat sources. A heat pump of this scale utilising the heat of the sea water is unique in Finland. Construction will begin in 2020 and the pump is scheduled for completion in 2022. Its capacity is 13 MW district heat and 9.5 MW district cooling.

The amount of our nuclear power assets will increase when the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant starts operations. According to the updated schedule of the plant supplier, the Areva-Siemens consortium, Olkiluoto 3 will be connected to the national grid in November 2020 and regular electricity generation will start in March 2021.

We are also building a large heat storage facility in the disused oil caverns in Mustikkamaa, deep in the Helsinki bedrock. The volume of the facility is 260,000 cubic metres and it can store 12 gigawatt-hours of heat. The charging and discharging capacity of the heat storage facility is 120 megawatts, i.e. discharging or charging with full capacity takes four days. The storage facility increases flexibility in the energy system in Helsinki and reduces the use of fossil fuels. The value of the investment is about EUR 15 million. The construction work started in 2019 and completion is due in 2021.  

We are increasing hydropower production by carrying out a modernisation project on the Klåsarö hydropower plant located on the River Kymijoki. The plant’s output is 4.6 megawatts and annual production about 32 gigawatt-hours. As a result of the upgrade of the power plant’s turbines, the production volume of the plant will rise by about 18 per cent. The upgrade will be carried out during 2019–2020. Helen closed down the energy production use of the Vanhankaupunginkoski power plant museum. The museum power plant has no national significance in terms of energy production (output 0.25 MW). However, the plant and especially the dam in the Vanhankaupunginkoski Rapids have harmful impacts on the ecosystem and migrating fish stocks in the river.  

We built a solar power plant on the roof of the Messukeskus Expo and Convention Centre in summer 2019. The solar power plant consists of 2,300 solar panels and its output is 695 kilowatts. The plant operates according to Helen’s own designated panel concept, i.e. anyone can hire their own panel. We also built Finland’s largest roof-installed solar power plant on the roof of shopping centre Elo.

We  will build a bioenergy heating plant in Vuosaari

We studied various alternatives of building a bioenergy heating plant in Helsinki. The planned areas were in Patola, Tattarisuo and Vuosaari. Bioheat will replace coal use and ensure sufficient supplies of district heat after the closing of the Hanasaari power plant. The environmental impact assessment process of the Tattarisuo bioenergy heating plant was completed in spring 2019 after the Uusimaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment issued a statement in which it concludes that the studies carried out are sufficient at this stage. The environmental permit was granted for the Vuosaari bioenergy heating plant in spring 2019. Helen’s Board of Directors decided on the planning of the Vuosaari bioenergy heating plant and the investment decision was made in early 2020. This and the previous investment decisions on heat pumps and energy storage will make it possible to close the Hanasaari power plant.  

Studies on the energy use of both Tattarisuo and Patola areas are making progress alongside the planning of the Vuosaari project, and any decisions will be made at a later date. However, new energy management areas are needed regardless of the form of energy production.

Promoting solutions for the future

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 fuels or production methods. In addition to increasing the use of biofuels, we are investigating, for example, the utilisation of excess heat with various kinds of heat pumps, as well as the utilisation of solar heat, geothermal heat and modular nuclear power. We are also evaluating the possibilities offered by demand response, distributed generation, storage, and energy saving, as well as production and energy efficiency solutions implemented together with our customers.  

We are studying the possibilities of utilising excess heat from the Kilpilahti refineries in cooperation with Neste, Borealis Polymers, and various energy companies. Kilpilahti produces a substantial amount of low-temperature waste heat, the utilisation of which has not been possible until now. The preliminary report was completed in 2019 and it will be continued in 2020 with the techno-economic study.  

We are developing a city refinery in Vuosaari together with Lassila & Tikanoja and VTT with the objective of utilising materials and energy in accordance with a circular economy. The city refinery aims to process difficult-to-recycle materials and biomass into high-grade products. This will boost the efficiency of recycling of materials in Helsinki.  The by-product of the process is heat, which is recycled into the district heating network. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment granted an aid of EUR 7.9 million for the project. The planning and studies are continuing. The investment decision is due to be made in late 2020.  

Small modular reactors, SMR reactors, are a means of producing emission-free energy, and Helen is monitoring their development while taking active part in the development of their operational preconditions.

We are 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 heated by the sun in the summer. The water will then be 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 are also investigating to increase wind power if suitable sites are found and the investment proves worthwhile. We are also interested in building wind power off the coast of 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.  

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 excess heat and recycled heat, to optimise production and to enhance the use of energy for internal consumption at substations.  

During 2019, we carried out an energy survey required by the Energy Efficiency Act with respect to the Helen Group’s operations and ownership in Finland. The mandatory site survey required by the company-level survey was carried out on the Vuosaari B power plant. The energy survey report includes profiles of energy use at the Group and the subsidiary levels, as well as key energy-efficiency improvement areas that require further investigation.   Significant measures in 2019 included, e.g. the decision to acquire an optimisation program for district heat distribution and the launching of the Kiinteistövahti product for optimising the heating of housing companies.          

In 2019, the efficiency of energy production in the Helen Group was 94.25 per cent (94.4 per cent in 2018). Losses of the electricity network were record low, 2.17 per cent.

See also

Environmental responsibility

Reduction of environmental impacts is an important part of our activities. Our long-term goal is climate-neutral energy production.

Environmental impacts

Climate impacts

Origin and sustainability of energy