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Investments in carbon neutrality are becoming a reality: Hanasaari power plant to close earlier than predicted, emissions have already fallen significantly

Helen’s net sales continued to grow strongly, but the result was still depressed by increased costs of emission allowances, fuels and energy procurement. Significant change projects and projects in carbon-neutral production progressed as planned, as a result of which it will be possible to close the Hanasaari coal-fired power plant almost two years earlier than anticipated.

A total of one billion euros has been reserved for carbon-neutral investments, and one-third of the investment decisions have already been taken. In comparison with last year, the investments have doubled. The emissions trend is already a downward one which, in addition to the weather, is significantly impacted by the investments already made in carbon-neutral production.

“We have made considerable efforts and large investments in renewable and emission-free heat and electricity production. This will allow us to close the Hanasaari coal-fired power plant earlier than anticipated, already in spring 2023. Helen has the expertise and the will to have an impact on the energy transition and to find solutions for the mitigation of climate change. Climate work is also carried out together with customers: we have sold a significant share of the production of the soon-to-be completed Lakiakangas wind farm to Sponda. Our customer numbers continue to grow strongly in all customer segments, and the number of electricity contract customers is already almost 585,000 households,” says Juha-Pekka Weckström, President & CEO of Helen Ltd.

The Helen Group consists of the parent company Helen Ltd and the subsidiaries Helen Electricity Network Ltd, Oy Mankala Ab, and Helsingin Energiatunnelit Oy. Tuulipuisto Lakiakangas 3 Oy and Kristinestad Tupaneva Oy are also reported as new subsidiaries. The associated companies consolidated in the Group accounts are Voimapiha Oy, Suomen Merituuli Oy, and Liikennevirta Oy. The figures in brackets are comparable to the same period in the previous year.

April‒June 2021

  • The Group’s net sales grew year on year. Net sales stood at EUR 224 million (EUR 210 million). Operating profit fell to EUR 12 million (EUR 22 million). Despite the reduced sales volume, net sales grew as a result of the rise in the market price of electricity and the cost-based price of district heat. The result is diminished considerably by higher fuel costs and excise tax on fossil fuels, as well as the rise in the price of emission allowances.
  • Heat sales were down by 5 per cent on the previous year, standing at 1,101 GWh (1,164 GWh). Total electricity sales fell by 18 per cent to 1,069 GWh (1,301 GWh).
  • Cooling sales decreased by 13 per cent to 65 GWh (75 GWh).
  • Electricity distribution in Helsinki grew by 9 per cent to 1,101 GWh (920 GWh).

January‒June 2021

  • The Group’s net sales grew significantly year on year, but the operating profit diminished considerably due to a substantial increase in costs. Net sales stood at EUR 632 million (EUR 576 million). Operating profit amounted to EUR 74 million (EUR 105 million).
  • Heat sales grew by 14 per cent on the previous year, standing at 3,950 GWh (3,477 GWh).
  • Total electricity sales remained unchanged at 3,294 GWh (3,285 GWh).
  • Cooling sales increased by 15 per cent to 89 GWh (77 GWh).
  • Electricity distribution in Helsinki grew by 7 per cent to 2,228 GWh (2,089 GWh).

Helen Group’s key figures

  4-6/
2021
4-6/
2020
Change 1-6/
2021
1-6/
2020
Change
Net sales, EUR mill. 224 210 7 % 632 576 10 %
Operating profit, EUR mill. 12 22 - 49 % 74 105 -29 %
Operating profit, % 5,2 10,7 - 52 % 11,7 18,2 - 36 %
Profit before appropriations, EUR mill. 7 16 -54 % 66 94 - 30 %
Investoinnit, M€  69 31 125 % 98 45 116 %
Equity ratio, % - -   76 79 - 4 %
Return on capital invested (rolling 12 months), % - -   4,3 5,4 -20 %
Employees as of 30 June - -   1073 1033 4 %
Balance sheet total, EUR mill. - -   2779 2671 4 %

Key events in April–June

Energy market and carbon neutrality

  • Helen’s Board of Directors decided that energy production in the Hanasaari power plant is to end and the power plant is to close already in spring 2023.
  • The environmental impact assessment of the seawater heat recovery project has started. Helen has carried out a feasibility study on various alternatives of utilising seawater as a source of heat for industrial-scale heat pumps in Helsinki. The project has now progressed to the environmental impact assessment.

Customer solutions and services

  • Eighteen new electric vehicle charging points have been installed in the Satamaparkkitalo parking facility at the West Harbour in Helsinki. The new charging points are part of the Satamaparkkitalo parking facility, mostly serving the sea passengers of West Harbour, but also local businesses and residents, as well as motorists visiting the area.
  • Helen’s charging stations support Citycon’s carbon neutrality target and facilitate customer’s mobility. Known for its shopping centres, the objective of the real estate investment company Citycon is that more than half of the visitors to its shopping centres will arrive on low-carbon modes of transport by 2030.
  • The City of Espoo increases the number of public EV charging points in partnership with Helen. A total of 18 charging points have been installed in five residential areas in Espoo: in Tapiola, Leppävaara, and the Nuottaniemi guest harbour. The charging points utilise wind power.
  • In connection with the Helsinki Biennial, the artwork Vallisaari Lighthouse by Tadashi Kawamata will be erected on Vallisaari Island. Using Helen’s solar energy, the lighthouse shows the way to sustainable energy for visitors of the Biennial.
  • Since the beginning of their partnership, Helen and Allas Sea Pool have developed the use of the most carbon-neutral energy solutions. With the new cooperation agreement, Allas and Helen have agreed that Allas uses only carbon-neutral and emission-free Recycled Heat in its heating.
  • The electricity consumed in Sponda’s properties will be produced with emission-free wind power from Helen’s new Lakiakangas wind farm.
  • Electricity sales contracts with the City of Helsinki were renewed. The City of Helsinki is a key customer for Helen.
  • Telia and Helen have agreed on the utilisation of heat produced in a data centre. According to the plans, waste heat collected from Telia’s modern data centre in Pitäjänmäki will be transmitted into the district heating network for distribution to homes and properties in Helsinki as from June 2022. In future, the data centre can provide heat for the homes of more than 20,000 Helsinki residents.

Outlook

A change in the tax category of heat pumps is an absolute requirement for carbon-neutral investments of the future.

The price of emission allowances continued to soar in the period under review: the prices rose again by one third. The emission market mechanism promotes carbon neutral investments and improves their profitability in comparison with fossil production.

In the past few years, Helen has made significant investments in the production of renewable and emission-free heat and electricity. This allows us to close the Hanasaari coal-fired power plant almost two years earlier than anticipated, already in spring 2023. The plan to replace coal in Salmisaari is becoming clear so that several alternatives meet both the technical and financial criteria.

Price fluctuations in the electricity wholesale market are expected to gain strength in the next few years along with the rise in variable production. In the review period, the price of electricity remained high due to, e.g. the weaker hydrological situation in the Nordic countries.

The EU’s recovery instrument will speed up recovery from coronavirus, and some of the aid will be directed to the green transition. Helen’s carbon neutral projects fit well with this entity.

In addition to investments, the energy transition and carbon neutrality will also create new business opportunities for Helen. These are currently investigated, for example, in terms of hydrogen economy.

The results for 2021 are estimated to be clearly lower than in the previous year. The profit outlook is diminished by higher fuel costs and excise tax on fossil fuels, as well as the rise in the price of emission allowances.

Published: 06.08.2021 08:54
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