From Financial Statements Bulletin 2017
Electricity is expected to continue to gain a higher share of total energy consumption. Electricity demand in the Nordic countries is expected to grow by approximately 0.5% on average, while the growth rate for the next few years will largely be determined by macroeconomic developments in Europe, and especially in the Nordic countries.
The price of oil and coal in 2017, was on a clearly higher level compared to the previous year. The price of CO2 emission allowances (EUA) also increased during the fourth quarter of 2017. The price of electricity for the upcoming 12 months decreased in the Nordics due to a stronger hydrological balance but increased in Germany due to higher fuel prices.
In late January 2018, the forward quotation for coal (ICE Rotterdam) for the remainder of 2018 was around USD 88 per tonne and the market price for CO2 emission allowances for 2018 around EUR 8.90 per tonne. The Nordic system electricity forward price at Nasdaq Commodities for the remainder of 2018 was around EUR 27 per MWh and for 2019 around EUR 26 per MWh. In Germany, the electricity forward price for the remainder of 2018 and 2019 was around EUR 35 per MWh. Nordic water reservoirs were about 2 TWh below the long-term average, and were 7 TWh higher than a year earlier.
The Generation segment’s achieved Nordic power price typically depends on such factors as hedge ratios, hedge prices, spot prices, availability and utilisation of Fortum's flexible production portfolio, and currency fluctuations. Excluding the potential effects from changes in the power generation mix, a 1 EUR/MWh change in the Generation segment’s Nordic power sales achieved price will result in an approximately EUR 45 million change in Fortum's annual comparable operating profit. Achieved power price includes also the results of optimization of Fortum’s hydro and nuclear production as well as operations in the physical and financial commodity markets.
As a result of the nuclear stress tests in the EU, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) has decided on new regulations for Swedish nuclear reactors. For the operators, this means that safety investments should be in place no later than 2020.
The process to review the Swedish nuclear waste fees is done in a three-year cycle. The Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co (SKB) has updated the new technical plan including earlier shut down of some nuclear plants for the SSM to review. The final decision on the new nuclear waste fees for years 2018-2020 was made by the Swedish Government in December 2017 and was in line with SSM’s proposal to the Government. On 25 October 2017, the Swedish Parliament decided on changes in the legal framework impacting calculations of nuclear waste fees and the investment of the nuclear waste fund. In the revised legal framework the assumed operating time for calculating the waste fee is 50 years, as opposed to the previous assumption of 40 years. The fund is now also allowed to invest in other financial instruments in addition to bonds. Based on these changes the annual waste fees for Fortum will increase by approximately EUR 8 million.
On 3 July 2017, Fortum announced the decision by the Administrative Court in Stockholm, Sweden, related to Fortum Sverige AB’s hydro production-related real-estate tax assessments for the years 2009–2014. The Court decided in Fortum’s favour. The disputed amount for the five years was a total of SEK 510 million (EUR 53 million). Fortum will book the tax income (subject to income tax) only after the legal decision has entered into force. Hydropower plants have been subject to a real-estate tax rate that has resulted in an approximately 12 times higher real-estate tax per kWh compared to any other production, due to different tax rates and different valuation factors. The tax authority has appealed the decision.
In October 2016, the Swedish Energy Agency presented a concrete proposal on how to increase the production of renewable electricity by 18 TWh in 2020-2030 within the electricity certificate system, as part of the Energy Agreement. In April 2017, the Swedish Government decided that the increase will be carried out in a linear manner.
In September 2016, the Swedish Government presented the budget proposal for the coming years. One of the key elements was the proposal that the taxation of different energy production forms should be more equal, and the tax burden of nuclear and hydro should be taken to the level of other production technologies. The budget states that the nuclear capacity tax will be reduced to 1,500 SEK/MW per month from 1 July 2017 and abolished on 1 January 2018. As a result, the tax for Fortum decreased by EUR 32 million due to the tax decrease and by another EUR 5 million due to the premature closure of Oskarshamn 1 in the middle of the year. In 2017, the capacity tax was EUR 52 million. In 2018, there is no capacity tax. As stated in the Government’s budget, the hydropower real-estate tax will decrease from 2.8% to 0.5%; the tax will be reduced in four steps: in January 2017 to 2.2%; in January 2018 to 1.6%; in January 2019 to 1.0%; and in January 2020 to 0.5%. In 2017, the tax for Fortum decreased by EUR 20 million to EUR 95 million. In addition to the decrease in the tax rate, the hydropower real-estate tax values, which are linked to electricity prices, will be updated in 2019. The real-estate tax values are updated every six years. With the current low electricity prices, the tax values in 2019 would be clearly lower than today. The process for renewing existing hydro permits will also be reformed.
In 2015, the Swedish OKG AB decided to permanently discontinue electricity production at Oskarshamn’s nuclear plant units 1 and 2. Unit 1 was shut down on 17 June 2017, approximately 2 weeks earlier than planned, and unit 2 has been out of operation since June 2013. The closing processes for both units are estimated to take several years.
In City Solutions, stable growth, cash flow and earnings are achieved through investments in new plants and through acquisitions. Fuel cost, availability, flexibility and efficiency as well as gate fees are key drivers in profitability, but also the power supply/demand balance, electricity price and the weather affect profitability.
In May 2016, the Finnish Government decided to increase the tax on heating fuels by EUR 90 million annually from 2017 onwards. The negative impact on Fortum is estimated to be approximately EUR 5 million per year.
The development of acquired business operations of Fortum Oslo Varme is estimated to require integration-related one-time costs and increased investments over the coming years. The realisation of cost synergies are estimated to gradually start materialising from 2019 onwards with targeted annual synergies of EUR 5-10 million expected to be achieved by the end of 2020.
After the acquisition of Hafslund Markets in August, a new business strategy for Consumer Solutions was approved by the Fortum Board of Directors in December. The strategic objective is to establish Consumer Solutions as the leading consumer business in the Nordics, with a customer-centric multi-brand structure.
Competition in the Nordic electricity retail market is expected to remain challenging, with continued pressure on sales margins and increasing customer churn. To counter the market challenges and create a solid foundation for competitive operations, Consumer Solutions will continue its cost spend in developing new digital services for consumers.
The combined Hafslund Markets and Fortum Markets business, while largely complementary, have identified synergy potential, in terms of both revenue and costs. The short-term priority will be on achieving identified revenue synergies by leveraging established best practices and providing additional products and services to the whole customer base. The realisation of cost synergies will start materialising once the integration of Hafslund Markets is completed, expected from 2019, with cost synergy realisation gradually increasing over the coming years, and targeted annual synergies of approximately EUR 10 million to be achieved by the end of 2020.
The Russia segment's new capacity generation built after 2007 under the Russian Capacity Supply Agreement (CSA) has been a key driver for earnings growth in Russia, as it receives considerably higher capacity payments than the old capacity. Fortum will receive guaranteed capacity payments for a period of approximately 10 years from the commissioning of a plant. The received CSA payment will vary depending on the age, location, size and type of the plants, as well as on seasonality and availability. CSA payments can vary somewhat annually because they are linked to Russian Government long-term bonds with 8 to 10 years maturity. In addition, the regulator will review the earnings from the electricity-only market three and six years after the commissioning of a unit and could revise the CSA payments accordingly. Furthermore, the level of the CSA payments increases starting from the seventh year of the 10-year period.
In June 2017, 1,000 MW of the bids of the 50/50-owned Fortum-RUSNANO wind investment fund were selected in the Russian wind auction. The bids are for projects to be commissioned during the years 2018-2022 with a price corresponding to approximately EUR 115-135 per MWh. The projects will be covered by CSA for a period of 15 years.
The long-term Competitive Capacity Selection (CCS) for the years 2017-2019 was held at the end of 2015, the CCS for the year 2020 in September 2016, and the CCS for the year 2021 in September 2017. All Fortum plants offered in the auction were selected. Fortum also obtained forced mode status, i.e. it receives payments for the capacity at a higher rate for some of the "old capacity". For the years 2017-2019, forced mode status was obtained for 195 MW; for the year 2020, 175 MW, and for the year 2021, 105 MW.
In December 2017, Fortum acquired three solar power companies from Hevel Group, Russia's largest integrated solar power company. All three power plants are operational and will receive CSA payments for approximately 15 years after commissioning at an average CSA price corresponding to approximately EUR 430/MWh. The plants were commissioned in 2016 and 2017.
Fortum’s Ulyanovsk wind farm is listed in the registry of capacity as of January 2018. The 35 MW power plant is Russia’s first industrial wind park. It will receive CSA payments for a guaranteed period of 15 years.
The Russian gas price increased by 3.9% in July 2017 and the increase of the annual average gas price for 2017 was 2.0%.
Capital expenditure and divestments
Fortum currently estimates its capital expenditure, including maintenance but excluding acquisitions, to be in the range of EUR 600-700 million in 2018 most of which is related to hydro and CHP capacity as well as new investments in renewables. The maintenance capital expenditure in 2018 is estimated at approximately EUR 300 million, well below the level of depreciation.
The effective corporate income tax rate for Fortum in 2018 is estimated to be 19-21%, excluding the impact of the share of profits of associated companies and joint ventures, non-taxable capital gains, and a Swedish income tax case.
On 11 May 2017, the Administrative Court in Stockholm, Sweden, gave its decisions related to Fortum’s income tax assessments for the year 2013. The Court’s decisions were not in Fortum’s favour. Fortum has appealled the decisions. If the decisions remain in force despite the appeal, the negative impact on the net profit would be approximately EUR 28 million (approximately SEK 273 million). Fortum has not made a provision for this, as, based on legal analysis, the EU Commission’s view and supporting legal opinions, the cases should be ruled in Fortum’s favour. The assessments concern the loans given in 2013 by Fortum’s Dutch financing company to Fortum’s subsidiaries in Sweden. The interest income for these loans was taxed in the Netherlands. The Swedish tax authority considers just over a half of the interest relating to each loan as deductible, i.e. deriving from business needs. The rest of the interest is seen as non-deductible. The decisions are based on the changes in the Swedish tax regulation in 2013.
On 30 June 2017, the Court of Appeal in Stockholm, Sweden, ruled against Fortum related to Fortum's income tax assessments in Sweden for the years 2009-2012. Due to the decision of the Court of Appeal, Fortum booked a tax cost of 1,175 MSEK (EUR 123 million) in the second-quarter 2017 results. The booking did not have any cash flow effect for Fortum, as the additional taxes and interest have already been paid in 2016. The case concerns Fortum’s right to deduct intra-group interest expenses in Sweden in the years 2009-2012. Fortum restructured its operations and reallocated loans in 2004-2005 to secure future operations. Fortum does not agree with the Court's decision and had applied for the right to appeal from the Supreme Administrative Court.
At the end of 2017, approximately 70% of Generation's estimated Nordic power sales volume was hedged at EUR 28 per MWh for 2018, and approximately 40% at EUR 25 per MWh for 2019.
The reported hedge ratios may vary significantly, depending on Fortum's actions on the electricity derivatives markets. Hedges are mainly financial contracts, most of them electricity derivatives quoted on Nasdaq Commodities.