January–December 2022: Significant investments in the midst of an energy crisis
• The Group’s net sales grew significantly year on year, standing at EUR 669 (EUR 491) million.
• Operating profit showed a substantial increase, totalling EUR 31 (EUR -11) million.
• Heat sales were down by 12 per cent on the previous year, amounting to 1,980 (2,262) GWh.
• Total electricity sales fell by 4 per cent to 1,418 (1,475) GWh.
• Cooling sales increased by 10 per cent to 34 (31) GWh.
• Electricity distribution in Helsinki fell by 9 per cent, standing at 1,110 (1,224) GWh.
• The Group’s net sales grew significantly year on year, totalling EUR 1,785 (EUR 1,318) million.
• Reported operating profit showed an increase, amounting to EUR 142 (EUR 82) million, but comparable operating profit was the same as in 2021. Operating profit for 2021 includes EUR 60 million of one-off value adjustments, due to which the comparable operating profit stood at EUR 142 million.
• Return on equity was 4 (3) %.
• Heat sales fell by 9 per cent on the previous year, totalling 6,266 (6,885) GWh.
• Total electricity sales fell by 12 per cent to 4,799 (5,478) GWh.
• Cooling sales were almost the same as in the previous year at 205 GWh (203 GWh).
• Electricity distribution in Helsinki remained almost unchanged, standing at 4,351 (4,473) GWh.
Helen Group's Key Figures
|Operating profit %||8%||6%|
|Profit before taxes||119||67|
|Return on equity (ROE) (12 months)||4%||3%|
|Balance sheet total||3,751||3,115|
Helen Group consists of the parent company Helen Ltd, the subsidiaries and the associated companies, which are listed in the table section of the financial statements.
CEO Olli Sirkka comments:
“In many respects, year 2022 ended with an extremely eventful quarter, summing up well the whole year. Despite the energy crisis, we continued to implement our strategy and made substantial investments in carbon-neutral energy production. During the fourth quarter, we reported that in the next few years we will build more than 2,000 megawatts of capacity to replace fossil energy production. Vuosaari bioenergy heating plant started producing heat according to plan. We continued our investments in wind and solar power by reporting on several major investments. Moreover, in partnership with LämpöYkkönen Oy, we established Geonova Oy, a company focusing on geothermal heat and heat pump solutions. Our EV charging network expanded further.
In 2022, the energy crisis resulting from the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine defined the markets, and the prices of emission allowances and raw materials continued to rise almost throughout the year. After the war broke out, we made a quick decision to cease purchasing Russian fuels. Requiring substantial efforts, the rapid change of procurement channels in a challenging operating environment was a great success.
Our comprehensive way of operating on the market as a buyer and a seller stabilised our situation in the turbulent market. During the year, we made significant changes in our product portfolio. We reformed our heat range and launched geothermal heat as a main heating system next to district heat. In terms of electricity, we launched, e.g., the Basic Electricity and Helen Smart Electricity products. Smart energy use was rapidly evident in the reduced electricity consumption among our customers who had signed up for exchange electricity. At the end of the year, a reduction in electricity consumption was seen in all contract types.
Our customer service channels were inundated because of the energy crisis. We were unable to serve our customers at the speed we were hoping for, and we were even forced to temporarily close some contact channels due to the completely exceptional amount of customer contacts. The role of digital services grew significantly. At the end of the year, the Oma Helen app for monitoring own electricity consumption at the hourly level had about 390,000 users. To serve our customers even better, we will continue the rapid development of digital services in support of our customers.
The number of our customers remained stable, and we were able to maintain our share of the market. Our net sales grew significantly due to the high wholesale market price of electricity. Our district heat business made a loss due to the significant increase in production costs as we did not pass the massively increased costs to the customer prices in full. Our comparable operating profit was on the same level as previous year and return on investment was four percent, which is moderate for a business company. Our comparable profitability (operating profit eight percent) declined from previous year (11 percent).
Crisis resilience was a key theme in the energy sector in 2022 in many ways. Helen’s world-class experts focused on their work and on guaranteeing supply and maintenance security in an extremely unstable operating environment. We showed excellent crisis resilience. I would like to thank everyone at Helen for all your great work,” says Olli Sirkka, CEO of Helen Ltd.
Investments in the production of carbon-neutral heat and electricity become a reality, especially when the numerous wind power projects are completed in the next few years. Our production structure changes mainly from combined heat and power generation to separate production when, for example, Hanasaari power plant is closed, Vuosaari bioenergy heating plant is taken into production use, the seventh heat pump at Katri Vala is completed and more wind farms are commissioned. The main production forms for separate production for electricity are wind, hydro and nuclear power.
We will continue our investments to accelerate the change to carbon-neutral electricity and heat production. 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. The important role of hydrogen in the carbon-neutral society of the future will grow further, and we will promote our hydrogen-related partnerships. We will bolster the e-mobility infrastructure by increasing the number of charging points. In terms of Mustikkamaa cavern heat storage facility, we have reached the heating phase that will be implemented in accordance with the energy market situation. We expect regular electricity generation to start in Olkiluoto 3, in which we have a stake through our partly owned company TVO.
Our goal is to increase energy self-sufficiency by replacing some of our current production with diverse technology 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. We continue studying the role of small modular reactors (SMRs) as one of the energy sources of the future. Together with the authorities (the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority STUK), we aim to make it possible to reform legislation on the nuclear energy sector and the related licensing, and to accelerate the reform.
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.
We continue to focus on improving the customer experience by investing especially in digital customer encounters and the digitalisation of the solution business. We will continue to increase our investments in digital services that help our customers, support them in saving energy and encourage them to become smarter energy users. We want to play our part in increasing energy education.
We expect the general instability and unpredictability in the energy market to continue. The challenging market conditions and the development trend in the energy production structure are maintaining a great fluctuation in prices. The situation of the electricity retail market has become easier as the price levels have fallen, and the collateral requirements related to the business operations are more moderate. Political regulation and potential changes in the operating principles of the energy market are a source of uncertainty for the operators. Uncertainty increases the sector risk, and that way reduces the investment prospects for the sector. We predict that the Windfall tax will significantly reduce the company’s performance and cashflow. For these reasons, the Group’s business result is considerably more uncertain than before, which is also due to the low level of profitability of district heat. Taking the uncertainties into account, we predict that the Group’s financial result in 2023 will show a decline from 2022.