News / 29.4.2024

Helen Group’s interim report January–March 2024: Investments in the green transition of district heating progressed as planned

January–March 2024

  • Consolidated net sales decreased by 13% year-on-year and amounted to EUR 631 million (EUR 727 million).
  • Operating profit decreased by 11% to EUR 60 million (EUR 67 million).
  • Electricity sales increased by 3% to 1,490 GWh (1,451 GWh).
  • Electricity distribution in Helsinki increased by 8% to 1,260 GWh (1,166 GWh).
  • Heat sales increased by 11% to 2,713 GWh (2,434 GWh).
  • Cooling sales increased by 16% to 36 GWh (31 GWh).

Consolidated key figures

EUR million unless otherwise specified Q1/2024 Q1/2023 Change 2023
Net sales 631 727 -13% 1,826
Operating margin (EBITDA) 119 131 -9% 308
Operating profit (EBIT) 60 67 -11% 93
     % of net sales 9% 9% 0% 5%
Profit before taxes 59 69 -14% 75
Investments 102 74 37% 408
Equity ratio, % 55% 57% -4% 54%
Return on capital employed (ROCE), 12 months, % 4% 2% 95% 4%
Balance sheet total 4,063 3,980 2% 4,005
Average number of employees 789 727 9% 757

Comments by CEO Olli Sirkka

We started the new year driven by our new strategy, which relies on the green transition, flexibility and profitability. In addition to adopting a new strategy, we implemented structural changes to our organisation, which now consists of business units that are accountable for the results of their respective activities, and Group functions that support the business units. The new organisational structure supports the execution of our strategy and enables the achievement of our targets.

Consolidated net sales decreased by 13% year-on-year, mainly due to a decline in the wholesale price of electricity, and amounted to EUR 631 million (EUR 727 million). The Group’s reported relative profitability was on a par with the previous year. Operating profit amounted to EUR 60 (67) million. Operating profit was reduced by a write-down of EUR 11 million related to the closure of the Kellosaari reserve power plant. The result was also negatively affected by accelerated depreciation associated with the discontinuation of coal-based production in Salmisaari.

The energy sector is in a phase of significant investment due to the green transition of society. Over the past few years, Helen has made exceptionally large investments in a carbon-neutral energy system. In total, we will invest over EUR 600 million in clean energy in 2024. Our investments are guided by our new Green and Sustainability-Linked Finance Framework, which was published near the end of the period under review. Moody’s Investors Service provided a Second Party Opinion on the framework, giving it the highest possible rating.

A significant share of Helen’s investments in 2024 will be focused on the renewal of heat production in Helsinki. We are building heat pump plants in Eiranranta and Salmisaari, and electric boiler plants in Salmisaari and Hanasaari. We will also convert the coal-powered boiler at the Salmisaari heating plant into a pellet-powered boiler. When the investments are completed, we will permanently discontinue the use of coal. This will significantly reduce emissions for Helen and the city of Helsinki as a whole. The final year of the coal-powered Salmisaari power plant began at the end of the period under review. The plant will be decommissioned on 1 April 2025.

As regards electricity, we invested in a 40 MW electricity storage facility under construction in Nurmijärvi during the review period. It is one of the first large-scale electricity storage systems in Finland, and it will significantly increase Helen’s electricity storage capacity. Increasing the flexibility of the energy system is a critical component of Helen’s strategy, and ensuring the conditions for it is vital for the implementation of the strategy.

The role of electricity transmission and distribution networks as an enabler of a sustainable energy system grows in importance as electricity consumption increases and production moves away from growth centres. Investments in the main grid and distribution networks must be ensured so that the transmission capacity is adequate to also support the electrification of heat production in Helsinki. The sufficiently quick renewal and expansion of the main grid is a precondition for the green transition.

Significant events during the review period

  • As part of the new strategy, the parent company adopted an organisational structure based on business units that are accountable for their results, and Group functions that support the business units. The new Management Group started its work on 1 January.
  • Helen Electricity Network Ltd CEO Markus Lehtonen was appointed as a member of the parent company’s Management Group effective from 1 February.
  • The parent company made an investment decision on a 40 MW electricity storage facility to be built in Nurmijärvi. The facility is one of the first large-scale electricity storage systems in Finland.
  • Following the product renewal that took effect at the turn of the year, monthly pricing was introduced for district heating. The aim of the renewal is to better respond to the changing needs of customers and to increase the transparency and consistency of the pricing of district heating.
  • Change negotiations were held in the parent company’s Customers and Services business unit and Heating and Cooling business unit. The aim of the change negotiations was to ensure the profitability of the business units. The outcome of the negotiations was the termination of 43 employment contracts and, as a consequence of mitigating measures, the number of employees made redundant for financial and production-related reasons was limited to one.
  • Helen announced it will move from the Sähkötalo building to new premises in Helsinki’s Salmisaari district in summer 2025. The move will enable closer cooperation within the Group, as Helen Electricity Network Ltd will relocate to the same premises as its parent company.
  • Helen Electricity Network Ltd announced that it will not charge network service fees to its customers for April and May. The decision stems from a significant decrease in expenses due to the transmission system operator Fingrid Oyj waiving part of its grid service fees. The decision does not have an impact on the Group’s result.

Significant events after the review period

  • Helen made an investment decision on a green hydrogen production plant to be built in Vuosaari, Helsinki. This is Helen’s first hydrogen project. The project will allow Helen to increase its expertise to meet the needs of large-scale hydrogen production and enhance the flexibility to the entire energy system. The produced hydrogen will primarily be used through a hydrogen refuelling station to be built in connection with the plant.


The electricity market is still extremely sensitive to changes, which makes predicting the future prices of electricity very difficult. The growth of wind power production will increase the supply of electricity, but the implementation of large-scale green transition investments and the resulting increase in electricity consumption have yet to materialise.

The significant fluctuations in the price of electricity make it difficult to predict the company’s profit performance, but the result for 2024 is expected to be better than the result for the previous year. The district heat business, which has been loss-making for a long time, is expected to return to profitability by the end of the year as heat production is decoupled from fossil fuels. Helen Electricity Network Ltd’s decision to not charge network service fees to its customers for April and May will not have an impact on the Group’s result.

The uncertainty associated with the general economic situation and the inflation-driven rise in interest rates and costs is reflected in the energy sector as decreasing orders and financing-related challenges. In spite of these challenges, Finland must not lose its position as a leader in the green transition. Despite the weakening economic situation, it is extremely important to maintain the planned rate of investment so that the transition from fossil fuels to renewable and carbon-neutral energy production is achieved in a timely manner.

Helen’s investments in carbon-neutral electricity, heat and cooling production are becoming concrete as new wind and solar farms are built around Finland and existing power plant sites in Helsinki are transformed. The company’s production structure is shifting from combined heat and power generation to separate production, in which the main electricity production forms are wind, solar, hydro and nuclear power. Heat production is rapidly becoming increasingly electric. In the future, it will consist of heat pumps, electric boilers and sustainable bioenergy. Assessments of the role of hydrogen and small-scale nuclear power as part of a sustainable energy system are also moving forward.

Helen Group’s half-year report for January–June will be published on 29 July 2024.

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