At the end of 2018, approximately 75% of the Generation segment's estimated Nordic power sales volume was hedged at EUR 31 per MWh for 2019 (at the end of the third quarter of 2018: 65% at EUR 30 per MWh), and approximately 45% at EUR 29 per MWh for 2020 (at the end of the third quarter of 2018: 35% at EUR 28 per MWh).
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.
Capital expenditure and divestments
Fortum currently estimates its capital expenditure, including maintenance but excluding acquisitions, to be in the range of EUR 600-650 million in 2019. This includes solar and wind investments, which can be divested through the capital recycling business model. The maintenance capital expenditure in 2019 is estimated at approximately EUR 300 million, well below the level of depreciation.
In 2020, capital expenditure is expected to decline.
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 the macroeconomic development in Europe and especially in the Nordic countries.
During the fourth quarter of 2018, oil and coal prices started to decrease, while EUA prices still increased. In late January 2019, the forward quotation for coal (ICE Rotterdam) for the remainder of 2019 was around USD 84 per tonne and the market price for EUAs for 2019 at the level of EUR 23 per tonne. The Nordic system electricity forward price at Nasdaq Commodities for the remainder of 2019 was around EUR 48 per MWh and for 2020 around EUR 39 per MWh. In Germany, the electricity forward price for the remainder of 2019 was around EUR 51 per MWh and for 2020 around EUR 49 per MWh. The Nordic water reservoirs were about 10 TWh below the long-term average and were 8 TWh lower than one year earlier.
The Generation segment’s achieved Nordic power price typically depends on factors such as hedge ratios, hedge prices, spot prices, availability and utilisation of Fortum's flexible production portfolio, as well as 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. The achieved power price also includes the results of optimisation 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. In March 2017, the Swedish Government decided on the new nuclear waste fees for years 2018-2020. In 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 increased by EUR 8 million in 2018.
On 19 June 2018, the Swedish parliament adopted new hydro legislation to come into force on 1 January 2019. According to the new legislation, all hydropower shall apply for updated permits. At the same time, hydropower shall be protected to be able to play a key role in the future energy system. In order to protect hydropower, all exemptions of the Water Framework Directives shall be utilised when classifying water bodies. In the new legislation it is stated that the industry shall create a joint hydropower fund to finance major parts of the environmental actions needed. A fund has been established with a total financial cap of SEK 10 billion to be paid over a 20-year period. The major utilities will contribute to the fund based on their share of hydropower production. Fortum's share is expected to be 20-25% of the fund's total financing. In addition to the new legislation, the government has issued an ordinance to establish a national prioritisation plan for the revision of hydropower permits (valid from 11 January 2019).
On 11 June 2018, the Swedish Administrative Court of Appeal gave its decisions on Fortum Sverige AB’s hydropower production-related real-estate tax assessments for the years 2009-2014. The court decisions were not in Fortum’s favour. Fortum applied for the right to appeal from the Supreme Administrative Court, but did not receive permission to appeal. As the Administrative Court, the Administrative Court of Appeal in Stockholm, and the Supreme Administrative Court have handled only the arguments concerning state aid, the case concerning the other legal arguments is now transferred back to the Administrative Court. The disputed amount, excluding interest for the time period, totals approximately SEK 510 million (approximately EUR 50 million). Moreover, Fortum's Swedish companies have appeals for 2011-2016 pending in the Administrative Court relating to the property tax rate for their hydropower plants referring to the same legal grounds. Fortum has paid the real-estate tax in accordance with the legislation. If the final court decision is unfavourable to Fortum, it will not impact Fortum's results. In December 2018, Fortum Sverige AB filed a complaint to the EU Commission regarding the Swedish property tax for hydropower plants regarding 2017 and prior years. Fortum has asked the Commission to investigate whether the Swedish legislation regarding the property tax for hydropower plants and the Swedish court decisions are in line with EU state aid rules.
In September 2016, the Swedish Government presented the budget proposal for the coming years, according to which the nuclear capacity tax will be reduced to 1,500 SEK/MW per month from 1 July 2017 and abolished on 1 January 2018. In 2017, Fortum's Swedish nuclear capacity tax was EUR 44 million. In 2018, there is no capacity tax. Further, the Swedish hydropower real-estate tax will decrease from 2.8% to 0.5%. The tax is being 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 2018, the tax for Fortum decreased by EUR 20 million to EUR 65 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 electricity prices, the tax values for the 2019-2024 period would be lower than they are today.
In 2015, the Swedish OKG decided to permanently discontinue electricity production at Oskarshamn’s nuclear plant units 1 and 2. Unit 1 was shut down on 17 June 2017 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, efficiency, as well as gate fees are key drivers for profitability, but also the power supply/demand balance, electricity prices, and weather conditions affect profitability.
The development of Fortum Oslo Varme's business operations is estimated to require integration-related one-time costs and increased investments over the coming years. The realisation of cost synergies is 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.
Competition in the Nordic electricity retail market is expected to remain challenging, with continued pressure on sales margins and 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, has 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 in 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.
In the Russia segment, capacity payments based on CSA contracts are a key driver for earnings growth, as it receives considerably higher capacity payments than through the CCS auctions. Currently, Fortum's CSA capacity amounts to 2,368 MW. In February 2018, the System Administrator of the wholesale market published data on the WACC and the CPI for 2017, which were used to calculate the 2018 CSA price. The CSA payments were revised downwards accordingly to reflect the lower bond rates. The regulator also reviewed the guaranteed CSA payments by re-examining earnings from the electricity-only market and revised the CSA payments upwards due to the lower earnings from the electricity-only market.
Fortum’s other Russian generation capacity, totalling 2,544 MW, is allowed to participate in the CCS auctions. The long-term 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 units at the Argayash power plant. For the years 2017-2019, "forced mode status" was obtained for 195 MW; for the year 2020 for 175 MW, and for the year 2021 for 105 MW. The date of the CCS auction for 2022 has been postponed from 15 September 2018 to 1 May 2019.
In June 2018, Fortum won the right to build 110 MW of solar capacity in a CSA auction. The power plants are to be commissioned during 2021-2022 and will receive a guaranteed CSA price corresponding to approximately RUB 14,000 per MWh for a period of 15 years.
In June 2018, the Fortum-Rusnano wind investment fund (Fortum's ownership 50%) won the right to build 823 MW of wind capacity in a CSA auction. The wind parks were to be commissioned during 2019-2023 and will receive a guaranteed CSA price corresponding to approximately RUB 7,000-8,000 per MWh for a period of 15 years. In December 2018, the wind investment fund made an investment decision on a 100-MW wind farm.
As of January 2018, Fortum’s Ulyanovsk wind farm is listed in the registry of capacity. The 35-MW power plant is Russia’s first industrial wind park. It will receive CSA payments for a period of approximately 15 years after commissioning. The CSA price currently corresponds to approximately RUB 11,000 per MWh.
In December 2017, Fortum acquired three solar power companies. All three power plants are operational and will receive CSA payments for approximately 15 years after commissioning. The CSA price currently corresponds to approximately RUB 20,000 per MWh. The plants were commissioned in 2016 and 2017.
In June 2017, the Fortum-Rusnano wind investment fund won the right to build 1,000 MW of wind capacity in a CSA auction. The wind parks were to be commissioned during 2018-2022 and will receive a guaranteed CSA price corresponding to approximately RUB 7,000-9,000 per MWh for a period of 15 years. In October 2017 and October 2018, the wind investment fund made investment decisions on a 50-MW and a 200-MW wind farm, respectively.
The Russian annual average gas price growth was 3.1% in 2018. Fortum estimates the Russian annual average gas price growth to be 3% in 2019.
For information on the financial impact of the Uniper shareholding, please see the Uniper investment section of this Financial Statements Bulletin and Note 6.
In December 2018, Fortum won the right from Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd. to build a 250-MW solar power plant in Raghanesda solar park in District Banaskhata, Gujarat, India. In January 2019, the Government of Gujarat cancelled the result of the auction on the grounds that it considers the winning tariffs to be too high. The Government of Gujarat has indicated that there will be a new auction, for which they intend to reduce the solar park charges to operators, in order to lower the costs for the bidders and enable lower bids.
In June 2018, Fortum won the right to build a 250-MW solar power plant in the Pavagada solar park in Karnataka, India. The capital expenditure is estimated to be approximately EUR 120 million, and the solar park will be entitled to a fixed tariff of 2.85 INR/kWh for 25 years. Commissioning of the plant is expected in 2019.
In 2019, the effective corporate income tax rate for Fortum is estimated to be 19-21%, excluding the impact of the share of profits of associated companies and joint ventures, non-taxable capital gains, as well as tax rate changes.
Fortum has received income tax assessments in Sweden for the years 2013, 2014, and 2015 concerning the loans given by Fortum's Dutch financing company to Fortum's subsidiaries in Sweden. The interest income for these loans was taxed in the Netherlands. After Fortum received a negative decision from the Administrative Court in Stockholm in 2017, Fortum filed an appeal to the Administrative Court of Appeal in Stockholm. In October 2018, the Administrative Court of Appeal in Stockholm, Sweden, announced its decision relating to the income tax assessment for the year 2013. The decision was favourable to Fortum. The Administrative Court of Appeal confirmed that Fortum had sufficient business reasons for the loans and accepted Fortum's appeal. The decision regarding the year 2013 is final. The Administrative Court in Stockholm announced its decisions in the cases for 2014 and 2015 in November 2018. Also these decisions were favourable to Fortum. The decisions became non-appealable by the end of January 2019. Fortum had not made provisions for the cases regarding the years 2013-2015, as Fortum considers the additional tax unjustified. Therefore, the favourable decisions issued by the Administrative Court of Appeal in October 2018 and by the Administrative Court in November 2018 did not have any impact on profits. The amount of additional tax claimed by the Swedish tax authority was originally SEK 273 million (EUR 26 million) for the year 2013, SEK 282 million (EUR 27 million) for the year 2014, and SEK 200 million (EUR 19 million) for the year 2015. The additional tax cost for 2013 was paid in 2017 and was refunded to Fortum in the fourth quarter of 2018. Additional taxes and interest for the years 2014 and 2015 had not been paid by Fortum.
In June 2018, the Swedish government decided to lower the Swedish corporate tax in two steps, from the current 22.0% to 21.4% from January 2019 and to 20.6% from January 2021.
In March 2018, the Swedish Supreme Administrative Court decided not to grant leave to appeal to Fortum with respect to the interest deduction cases relating to the years 2009-2012. The unfavourable decision of the Administrative Court of Appeal from June 2017 therefore remains in force. The additional tax and interest, in total SEK 1,175 million (EUR 122 million), was paid in 2016 and booked as a cost in the second-quarter 2017 results. There are strong grounds to argue that these decisions of the Administrative Court of Appeal and the Supreme Administrative Court violate EU law and fundamental rights under EU law. On these grounds, Fortum filed a summons application in December 2018 to the District Court of Stockholm in which damages are claimed from the Swedish state in these cases. Fortum also filed a request to initiate a mutual agreement procedure between Sweden and the Netherlands for the year 2012 (Note 19).