Helen Group’s interim report January–September 2017

Heat pumps boosted growth in cooling and the utilisation of waste energy.

Helen is strengthening its production to meet the growing demand for cooling services with its current construction of a new heating and cooling plant under the Esplanade Park. The new heat pumps will be able to recycle increasing amounts of waste energy from properties, homes and data centres. As a result, Helen's carbon dioxide emissions will fall by 20,000 tonnes per year. Helsinki has the third-largest and the most rapidly growing district cooling network in Europe.

"We are making significant investments in renewable energy. In addition to the new heating and cooling plant, we are currently building Finland's largest pellet-fired heating plant. With these investments, we are replacing the use of fossil fuels and reducing carbon-dioxide emissions. They will also strengthen our potential for growth in services based on renewable energy, such as district cooling and renewable district heat," says Pekka Manninen, Managing Director of Helen Ltd.

The Helen Group is a group of companies formed of the parent company Helen Ltd and the subsidiaries Helen Electricity Network Ltd, Oy Mankala Ab, Suomen Energia-Urakointi Oy, Helsingin Energiatunnelit Oy and Suomen Energia-Urakointi Oy. Its associated companies are Suomen Merituuli Oy, Voimapiha Oy and Liikennevirta Oy.

The figures in brackets refer to the comparable figures for the same period in the previous year.

July–September 2017

  • Net sales increased by 4% to EUR 127 million (EUR 123 million), with operating profit amounting to EUR -4 million (EUR -21 million). Business operations made a loss due to the normal cyclical nature of business operations. However, the growth in net sales and the improvement of operational efficiency contributed to the increased operating profit.
  • Cash flow from operating activities stood at EUR 29 million (EUR -3 million).
  • Heat sales increased by 12% to 668 GWh (594 GWh).
  • Total electricity sales grew by 3% to 848 GWh (823 GWh).
  • District cooling sales fell by 9% to 47 GWh (52 GWh).
  • Electricity distribution in Helsinki fell by 1% to 988 GWh (993 GWh).

January–September 2017

  • Net sales increased by 8% to EUR 567 million (EUR 526 million), with operating profit amounting to EUR 48 million (EUR 29 million). Net sales were boosted by the good trend in sales and the impact of tax increases on prices.
  • Cash flow from operating activities stood at EUR 129 million (EUR 105 million).
  • The warm winter and cold summer had an impact on heat sales, which grew by 4% on the previous year. Heat sales totalled 4,540 GWh (4,372 GWh).
  • Total electricity sales grew by 4% to 4,337 GWh (4,188 GWh).
  • District cooling sales fell by 3% to 110 GWh (114 GWh).
  • Electricity distribution in Helsinki remained almost unchanged, at 3,215 GWh (3,221 GWh).

Helen Group's key figures

  7-9/2017 7-9/2016 Change 1-9/2017 1-9/2016 Change
Turnover, EUR million 127 123 4 % 567 526 8 %
Operating profit, EUR million –4 –21 83 % 48 29 63 %
Operating profit, % –3 –17   8 6  
Profit before appropriations, EUR million –9 –27 67 % 31 11 196 %
Investments, EUR million –17 –32 46 % –62 –73 16 %
Equity ratio, % - -  - 72 73  
Return on investment (ROI), % - -  - 2 1  
Number of employees 30 September - -  - 1191 1301 –8 %
Balance sheet total, EUR million - -  - 2677 2623 2 %

Key events in July–September

  • Helen Electricity Network's new Managing Director Tommi Karjalainen took up his post upon the retirement of the previous Managing Director Risto Harjanne.
  • Helen and Elisa signed an ICT service agreement, according to which Helen will transfer its infrastructure and end user services to one provider responsible for the whole service entity. These services have previously been produced internally and with several providers.
  • The first two-way charging point in Finland was opened in the Suvilahti district of Helsinki in connection with Helen's solar power plant and electricity storage facility. The V2G (vehicle-to-grid) charging point enables not only charging of electric vehicles, but also using them as an electricity storage unit and utilising them in the balancing of the electricity system. So far, there are no known charging points like this in public use anywhere else in Europe.
  • Helen Electricity Network's new substation in Kalasatama was made ready for deployment. The substation will safeguard power distribution in the expanding district while piloting new fault management technology to automatically bypass faults in the electricity system of a major client site. The substation is equipped with its own solar power plant, and it utilises the waste heat of transformers in its heating.
  • Helen agreed on the construction of a large solar power plant for the Jounin Kauppa shopping centre in Äkäslompolo. A solar power plant with about 1,080 panels will be built to cover the whole roof of the shopping centre. The output of the entire power plant is 292 kWp, which is among the largest in Finland. Helen is responsible for the construction and maintenance of the solar power plant.
  • Helen implemented a solar power plant for the Allas Sea Pool spa in Katajanokka in Helsinki. Helen is the energy partner of Allas Sea Pool: in addition to the solar plant, Helen also delivers to Allas hydrogenerated electricity as well as district cooling, through which waste heat is recycled into district heat production. The spa pools are also heated with renewable district heat.
  • Helen launched a study to investigate the best and most cost-effective way to safeguard the passage of migratory fish past the power plant dams on the River Kymijoki. The study is part of the Government's key projects, and it is carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment.

Outlook

According to forecasts, the electricity market will be very difficult for electricity producers in the next few years. The wholesale price of electricity in the Nordic countries will remain low in the coming years, and there are no significant signs of increases in electricity prices in the near future. It is not economically viable to invest in electricity production. Higher prices can be forecast only in the wintertime.

The share of imported electricity in Finland has risen in the past few years. Especially in wintertime, the production capacity is not sufficient to meet the demand. Wind power that fluctuates according to wind conditions has seen very strong growth while a significant amount of condensate production has disappeared from the market at the same time. There has been an increasing need in the power system for production capacity that has reliable availability, e.g. for combined heat and power generation. Therefore, a value should be created for this kind of production in order to safeguard market performance also in the future.

The Emissions Trading Scheme Directive (ETS) and the EU's Clean Energy package will make progress this autumn. Making the emissions trading scheme more effective, as well as the Directive on Renewable Energy (RES) which takes a position on the sustainability criteria for solid biofuels have a significant impact on the operating preconditions of Helen and Finland's energy sector.

In Helen's view, it would be important to achieve a strong emissions trading scheme that would genuinely guide investments towards emissions reduction. The emissions trading scheme should be the primary means of control for energy production, and any overlapping and contradictory support systems should be minimised.

Some worrying signals have emerged regarding preparation related to the sustainability criteria for biofuels. In terms of Finnish energy production and Helen, it is essential that the directions taken will not unduly restrict the use of biofuels such as wood chips or industrial side streams in energy production, thus jeopardising increased use of biofuels and planned investments.

The future taxation solutions in Finland will also have a significant impact on the ability to safeguard combined heat and power generation, which is needed especially in the winter conditions.

The operating results for 2017 are estimated to be at the 2016 level.

Download Helen's interim report (in Finnish).

Helenin osavuosikatsaus

Published: 06.11.2017 10:13

Sanna Jääskeläinen
Communications Manager
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