Helen Group’s half-year interim report January–June 2022: Successful adaptation in a challenging operating environment
- The Group’s net sales grew year on year, totalling EUR 312 million (EUR 224 million).
- Operating profit fell to EUR 9 million (EUR 12 million).
- Heat sales grew by 4 per cent on the previous year, standing at 1,144 GWh (1,101 GWh).
- Total electricity sales fell by 2 per cent to 1,048 GWh (1,069 GWh).
- Cooling sales decreased by 3 per cent to 59 GWh (60 GWh).
- Electricity distribution in Helsinki grew by 1 per cent to 1,012 GWh (1,001 GWh).
- The Group’s net sales grew significantly year on year, totalling EUR 821 million (EUR 632 million).
- Operating profit fell considerably to EUR 53 million (EUR 74 million).
- Heat sales fell by 7 per cent on the previous year, standing at 3,680 GWh (3,950 GWh).
- Total electricity sales fell by 23 per cent to 2,548 GWh (3,294 GWh).
- Cooling sales decreased by 6 per cent to 83 GWh (89 GWh).
- Electricity distribution in Helsinki grew by 0.5 per cent to 2,239 GWh (2,228 GWh).
Helen Group's key figures
|Net sales, EUR mill.||312||224||39%||821||632||30%|
|Operating profit, EUR mill.||9||12||-25%||53||74||-28%|
|Operating profit, %||2.8||5.2||-46%||6.5||11.7||-45%|
|Profit before appropriations, EUR mill.||11||7||62%||48||66||-27%|
|Investments, EUR mill.||49||69||-28%||80||98||-18%|
|Equity ratio, %||-||-||61||76||-20%|
|Return on capital invested, %||-||-||2.5||4.3||-42%|
|Number of employees on 30 June||-||-||1,011||1,073||-6%|
|Balance sheet total, EUR mill.||-||-||3,494||2,779||26%|
Ceo Juha-Pekka Weckström:
“In the second quarter of 2022, we withdrew from Russian fuels when our effective contracts on Russian coal expired. In three months, we replaced the procurement of Russian coal and carried out an evaluation of procurement, decentralising it to three different continents. This, in my opinion, is a significant success and achievement.
Despite the challenging operating environment, we continued our investment in carbon-neutral and emission-free energy. We made further investments in wind power and in rapidly growing solar energy. We also focused even more efforts to waste heat recovery, one example of which is the joint venture with Equinix in terms of the data centres in Suvilahti and Viikinmäki.
Our customer numbers grew in all segments during the second quarter. I am delighted that we have succeeded in creating a competitive and extensive range of products and services that is customer-oriented and creates value for our customers. In the second quarter, we also maintained our position as Finland’s best-known energy company. Our net sales grew considerably, but our operating profit fell due to the significant growth in costs,” says Juha-Pekka Weckström, President and CEO of Helen Ltd.
Key events in Apri-June
- We reported on our withdrawal from Russian fuels. In terms of coal, we complied with our effective contracts until their expiry. In future, we will procure coal from elsewhere than Russia. Our wholesale contract on Russian natural gas has expired. We do not procure our biomass from Russia. Our pellets are sourced from Finland and Estonia, and procurement is being expanded to other western countries. We source wood chips from Finland and are planning to expand the procurement to Estonia and the rest of the Baltic region at a later date. In terms of oil, we have a contract with a Finnish supplier.
- We chose YIT and the Spanish sustainable infrastructure developer ACCIONA as alliance partners for the tunnel system of the seawater heat recovery project to be built in Salmisaari in Helsinki. The work will start in July 2022 after the end of the appeal period. The development phase is estimated to last until autumn 2024. At the end of the development phase, a decision will be made on whether the alliance will move to the implementation phase, which would last approximately five years.
- We continued groundbreaking cooperation with Equinix in waste heat recovery. In future, waste heat produced in the cooling process of the Suvilahti and Viikinmäki data centres of Equinix will be used for heating thousands of homes and business premises in Helsinki with the aid of district heat.
- We are rapidly increasing solar energy production by building the first industrial-scale solar farm in Nurmijärvi. The solar farm located in the Nurmijärvi region will have a ground-mounted solar power plant of approximately 2,800 solar panels, covering an area of about three hectares. Its total capacity is 1.5 MWp, which corresponds to the annual electricity consumption of 750 one-bedroom flats.
- We reported that we will build an energy platform of the future and develop a digital twin of the district heating network with Gradyent. This will improve the efficiency of data collection and deepen understanding of the functioning of the district heating network.
- The amount of electricity produced with wind power will grow further when Suomen Hyötytuuli Oy made a decision to invest in the construction of the Oosinselkä wind farm in Pori and its neighbouring municipality Eurajoki. Our wholly owned subsidiary Oy Mankala Ab is one of the shareholders of Hyötytuuli, and Mankala has a 25 per cent share in the production of the Oosinselkä wind farm. A total of 15 wind turbines with a total output of 93 MW will be built in the Oosinselkä wind farm.
- In June, according to the press release of our partly owned company TVO, regular electricity production in Olkiluoto 3 will start in December 2022 instead of September as previously reported.
- We reported that we will launch a study on procuring operation and maintenance tasks as a service. Moving to a service procurement operating model is part of the adjustment measures related to the closing of the Hanasaari power plant and the Salmisaari coal-fired power plant. The study is also a step forward in the green transition in accordance with the strategy.
- We launched a new digital service for business and housing company customers, Yritys Helen, which enables monitoring of a property’s energy consumption even at the hourly level over the previous three years. This launch is a continuation of the development of digital services to our customers. We have previously launched the Oma Helen service for consumer customers, with the current number of customers exceeding 250,000.
Events after the financial period
On 6 July 2022, we reported that we will make significant investments in the heat pump market by establishing a joint venture with LämpöYkkönen Oy, focusing on geothermal heat and heat pump solutions. The joint venture will offer customers energy-efficient and carbon-neutral heating and cooling solutions in Helsinki and other parts of Finland. Setting up the joint venture and its related arrangements are still subject to the approval of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) under the rules of merger control.
On 11 July, we reported that we will continue significant investments in renewable energy by joining forces with the Ålandsbanken Wind Power Fund to acquire the Juurakko (40 MW) and Karahka (about 150 MW) wind farms in North Ostrobothnia from the international VSB Group. Located in Kalajoki (Juurakko) and in Oulainen (Karahka) in Ostrobothnia, the wind farms will have a total of 32 turbines. The Juurakko wind farm is scheduled for completion during 2022. The construction work at Karahka will start in autumn 2022, and the wind farm is scheduled for completion at the end of 2024. Helen is the majority shareholder of the wind farms.
Our significant change projects and carbon-neutral production projects progressed as planned. We will also continue our investment in order to accelerate the change to carbon-neutral electricity and heat production. Our production structure will change from combined heat and power production to separate production upon the termination of co-generation in Hanasaari and Salmisaari. The main forms of separate production are wind, hydro and nuclear power. The Salmisaari area will continue to be used in energy production.
As our current wind power investments are built and completed, we aim to continue investing in wind power. The role of solar energy has already grown in our business operations, and our goal is to make further investments in solar energy. We will further promote the utilisation of waste heat. Hydrogen will also have an important role in the carbon-neutral society of the future, and we are planning hydrogen-related cooperation contracts. We will promote e-mobility infrastructure by increasing the number of charging points. We aim to open about 65 fast/high-power charging points this year and to have a network of more than 1,000 charging points installed by 2025.
We continue to highlight our reformed and extensive range of heat-related products and services. With the new range, we offer our customers geothermal heat as a main heating system in addition to district heat, and even more solutions that increase heating efficiency, such as exhaust air heat pumps and energy renovations.
The commissioning of the modern bioenergy heating plant in Vuosaari is approaching. The seventh heat pump at Katri Vala is making progress and, in terms of the Mustikkamaa cavern heat accumulator, we have reached the heating phase that will be implemented in accordance with the situation in the energy market.
We aim to increase energy self-sufficiency by replacing some of our current production with diverse technological solutions, for example, electric boilers, air-to-water heat pumps, heat recovery from data centres, and various geothermal heat solutions. Cooperation in heat procurement with neighbouring municipalities will be increased. In our opinion, small modular reactors (SMR) are a noteworthy solution as one of the energy sources of the future. We aim to make it possible together with the authorities (the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority STUK) to reform legislation on the nuclear energy sector and the related licensing, and to accelerate the reform.
Our vision is to be the most customer-focused energy company in the market. In order to reach this target, we continue our efforts to improve the customer experience. The vision aiming for customer-orientation requires focusing on digital customer encounters and the digitalisation of the solution business.
We expect market volatility and unpredictability to continue. Fuel procurement from new channels will incur increasing costs. The challenging market conditions further accelerate price fluctuations. This will continue to undermine the predictability of the energy markets. The situation of the electricity retail market will intensify further in the changing market conditions. It can be said that the risks in the energy industry in general will increase further in the future. Helen’s profitability will be reduced further by the high costs of emission allowances and fuels in 2022. For this reason, it is challenging to carry on a profitable district heating business. Nevertheless, we expect the result for 2022 to reach the previous year’s level, mainly due to the trend in electricity market prices. However, the current market situation has considerably increased uncertainty with regard to the result.