Cargo at Port of Helsinki

First-quarter financial result of Helen and Port of Helsinki weakened from last year

The Helsinki energy company Helen invests in carbon neutrality despite a weakening of the company’s financial result for January–March 2020 compared with the same period in 2019.  Measures to pursue the goal of carbon neutrality include the company’s seventh heat pump to be built in Sörnäinen. The weakening of the financial result of Port of Helsinki was caused by an almost complete halt in passenger traffic and a drop in cargo traffic compared with last year.

Helen seeks to reduce the use of coal 

The exceptionally mild winter 2019–2020 reduced district heating sales, and the coronavirus crisis affected electricity distribution especially in March. Total electricity distribution was reduced by 4 percent during January–March. However, Helen continues to reform business operations and to make investments to achieve carbon neutrality. 

Helen speeds up the stepwise replacement of coal by building a bioenergy heating plant in Vuosaari. By commissioning the plant a year ahead of the original schedule, Helen can give up some coal earlier than projected. In addition, Helen invests in the utilization of excess heat by expanding the heating and cooling plant in Sörnäinen with a seventh heat pump. The seventh heat pump will produce enough energy to cover 10 percent of the district heating production capacity of the Salmisaari power plant, allowing Helen to phase out coal at Salmisaari faster than projected. 

Read more about Helen’s seventh heat pump in Sörnäinen 

The electric vehicle charging network will expand in Helsinki, when Helen delivers 33 new charging points to locations of Helsinki ice halls and Urheiluhallit Oy sports halls. Helsinki Zoo is heated with zero emissions thanks to Helen’s Recycled Heat.

Impact of Finnish Government and EU policies on Helen’s electricity production 

Helen’s electricity production was affected by the Finnish Government principle that energy taxation should comply with the Government Programme. The main policies according to this principle were the following: tax increases on combined heat and power production and on heating fuels, and a transfer of heat pumps and data centres producing heat for the district heating network to the lower electricity tax bracket II. The tax increases on combined heat and power production and on heating fuels will affect the heating costs of customers. The new tax bracket of heat pumps is a positive development, which improves the profitability of excess heat utilization.   

Another development affecting Helen’s operations was the initiative of the European Commission concerning the European climate, energy and environmental policy. One of the European Commission’s biggest initiatives is its proposal for the European Climate Law announced at the beginning of March. The law seeks a binding commitment to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions for EU countries as a whole by 2050. In addition, the law would raise the target for emission cuts by 2030 from the current 40 percent to 50–55 percent. Helen’s own goal is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035, so the EU’s new, more stringent emissions target does not change Helen’s path to cut emissions to a significant extent. Helen also combines the powers of customers and other stakeholder groups to build a carbon-neutral future. 

Read more on Helen’s website: Interim report January–March 2020 (in Finnish) 

The coronavirus crisis had a major impact on Port of Helsinki’s passenger traffic

The impact of the coronavirus crisis on the Port of Helsinki cargo traffic was surprisingly small. The financial result of cargo traffic was affected by strikes in the pulp and paper industry and other forest industry. Overall, total cargo traffic declined by 6.5 percent from the corresponding period in 2019.

Passenger traffic grew by 8.5 percent in January–March compared with the corresponding period in 2019. The coronavirus epidemic prompted the Finnish Government to recommend several measures restricting travel, which caused passenger traffic on vessels to be practically suspended in March. 

Port of Helsinki Ltd now seeks to ensure harbour operations and services as well as it can despite the changing conditions. The decline in traffic, especially in passenger traffic, has major economic consequences. All this has significantly weakened the financial forecast for the current year

Read more on Port of Helsinki website 

Photo: Paul Williams