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2023: A successful year for Oulun Energia by many standards

04.04.2024 / Last updated 00:00

Main highlights:

  • Net sales grew by almost six per cent to EUR 284 million. Operating profit improved by 56 per cent to EUR 61 million.
  • The strong result was based on the high usability and operational efficiency and flexibility of its own power plants.
  • The security of supply in the distribution of electricity and heat remained at an excellent level. Disruptions for customers were record short in time.
  • Syklo enhanced the operations of the sorting plant and increased the amount of waste directed to material recycling.
  • The goal of carbon neutrality by 2030 progressed through the electrification of district heating, recovery of waste heat, and increased solar and wind power.

In the aftermath of the energy crisis

2023 was spent dealing with the aftermath of the energy crisis, which was strongly reflected in the operating environment. During the year, the price of electricity decreased significantly and dipped to pre-energy crisis levels, but fluctuation in electricity prices intensified. Although the impact of the energy crisis on electricity prices lessened, the unprecedented global situation and the inflation affected, among other things, fuel prices, which was reflected in a significant increase in production costs. The need for risk management and preparedness also increased.

Oulun Energia’s district heating security of supply remained at an excellent level. Customers were without heat an average of 0.13 minutes due to distribution faults and an average of 3.0 minutes due to planned cuts. As for Oulun Energia Sähköverkko Oy, the average duration of cuts due to faults decreased to 9.9 minutes. Planned cuts were related to the construction or maintenance of the network and lasted an average of 2.7 minutes. 

Syklo, a subsidiary focused on the circular economy, developed partnerships in accordance with the growth strategy that enhanced the operation of the Oulu sorting plant and increased the amount of waste directed to material recycling by, for example, starting to receive individual fractions such as plaster, plastic pipes, and bitumen felt. During 2023, Syklo received 75,249 tonnes and processed 89,694 tonnes of waste. The goal is to increase the recycling rate of all treated waste to 20 per cent by 2025. Towards the end of the year, preparations were also made for the acquisition of Suomen Energiamurske Oy, located in Hyvinkää. The acquisition took place at the beginning of 2024 and with it, Syklo also announced its plans for the construction Finland’s largest plastic recycling plant, which will increase Finland’s plastic recycling capacity by up to 50 per cent.

Oulun Energia Group’s 2023 net sales grew by almost 6 per cent to 284 million euros. The operating profit improved by 56 per cent to 61 million euros. The strong result was based on the high usability and operational efficiency and flexibility of its own power plants. Oulun Energia also succeeded in just-in-time electricity production and swift reaction to the market.

Arto Sutinen, managing director at Oulun Energia, believes that the company has the right attitude and direction: “We are aiming for carbon neutrality by 2030, which is why we are heavily investing in the development of a smart and responsible energy system and profitable growth of the circular economy. Our profits rose to an excellent level, which enables the further development of our operations.”

New investments developed Oulu’s shared energy system

The development of Oulun Energia’s next-generation energy system continued, and we made progress in the recovery of waste heat and the electrification of production, among other things.

“We want to be a pioneer in the production of sustainable energy in Northern Finland and take advantage of the opportunities brought on by the energy transition. The city’s ecosystem is a functional platform in which we can do close and local work with many entities and efficiently and flexibly utilise different forms of energy,” shares Arto Sutinen.  

When it is completed in 2025, Nokia’s energy centre, currently under construction, will produce the cooling Nokia needs for its operations, and the waste heat created will in turn be used to produce district heat for Oulun Energia’s district heating network.  

At the end of the year, the company began a trial run of a 40-megawatt electric boiler at the Laanila industrial park that produces carbon-neutral heat while electricity is affordable. The electric boiler helps save limited biomass for later needs and improves security of supply.

In December 2023, Oulun Energia also announced that it is involved in EPV Energia Oy’s project, which is building Finland’s largest solar power park in Heinineva, Lapua. Oulun Energia’s share of the first phase of the solar park to be completed in 2025 is 20 megawatts. 

Also in 2023, the company and its partner P2X Solutions were preparing a large industrial-scale hydrogen project. The hydrogen project was announced in early 2024.

Operations guided by sustainability

During 2023, Oulun Energia significantly reduced its carbon dioxide emissions and the use of peat: Carbon dioxide emissions decreased by 18 per cent and the use of peat by 29 per cent. After 2025, peat will only be used in exceptional circumstances for security of supply reasons. The share of renewable energy sources rose to 74 per cent. 

“Last year, we made good progress on our path to carbon neutrality and reduced the use of fossil fuels even though difficulties in the construction industry, for example, have significantly reduced the availability of wood by-products,” Arto Sutinen states.

Looking to the future without fear of change

The great fluctuations in electricity market prices and the uncertainties arising from the global economy and politics can no longer be considered unprecedented circumstances, but part of the new normal. The forecasted declining electricity prices challenge the company to develop its productivity. Oulun Energia must act in response to the current major period of transition. In the future, the company will focus even more heavily on strategic reform, the development of the energy system of the future, and the profitable promotion of the circular economy both nationally and internationally.