NIB Nordic Investment Bank


Finland. Helen Oy

Date of loan: 21 Nov 2016
Country: Finland
Customer: Helen Oy
Amount in EUR: EUR 22 million
Maturity: 12 years
NACE sector / loan type: Electricity, gas, steam and hot water supply


Energy and environment

Environmental effect

This loan contributes to climate change mitigation: 77%


The loan has been provided for the construction of a wood pellet heating plant in Salmisaari, Helsinki, Finland, and an underground cooling centre.

In order to increase the proportion of renewable fuels in its energy production, Helsinki’s energy utility Helen will construct a new wood pellet district heating plant for peak load production in Salmisaari. The plant will replace an already demolished heavy oil fuel plant in Salmisaari.

The new wood pellet plant will have a fuel capacity of 100 MW and an estimated district heat output of 92 MW, or 230–280 GWh annually, enough to heat about 25,000 two-room apartments. The Salmisaari plant will become the largest of its kind in Finland. The costs of the project amount to EUR 36 million. Operations are scheduled to commence in February 2018.

Helen will also install two heat pumps at its district cooling water basin, located in a rock cavern beneath Helsinki city centre. The pumps will be connected to both Helen’s district cooling and district heating networks. The pumps will have a combined cooling capacity of 15 MW and a heating capacity of 22 MW.

The combined district heat output from the heat pumps is estimated to be 40 GWh annually. Simultaneously, the overall cooling capacity will increase to 50 MW. The heat pump installation is scheduled for completion by April 2018. The project costs amount to EUR 11 million.

Helen Oy operates in electricity generation and sales, and in district heating and cooling. The company has almost 400,000 customers throughout Finland, its district heat covers over 90% of Helsinki’s heating needs, and it is in the process of expanding its energy-efficient district cooling in Helsinki. Helen aims to achieve 100% carbon neutrality in its energy production. The company is owned by Helsinki City. As of 30 June 2016, the company employed 1,128 people.

Fulfilment of NIB's mandate

The Salmisaari project will diversify the fuel sources for Helen and benefit companies producing biofuels in NIB’s member countries. The new plant will be delivered by the Finnish engineering company Valmet.

The heat pump project will increase the capacity and efficiency of Helen’s district cooling service. This will offer households and businesses an alternative cooling source.

The new pellet heating plant will replace natural gas and oil used to produce district heat. The new production will correspond to approximately 58,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions avoided every year.

With the new wood pellet heating plant, the proportion of renewable energy sources in Helen’s district heat production will increase by 2.2 percentage points, to 7.7%.

Sustainability summary

Wood pellet heating plant
As the plant will be constructed within the existing Salmisaari power plant area, the environmental impact from the construction is limited.

Cooling center
The project has limited environmental and social impacts.

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