Koeberg nuclear power station in South Africa

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Koeberg nuclear power station is a nuclear power station in South Africa. Currently, it is the only one on the entire continent of Africa. It is situated on South Africa’s west coast, 30 kilometers north of Cape Town, and close to Melkbosstrand.

Koeberg has two pressurized water reactors based on a design by Framatome of France. The power plant was one of the first nuclear power plants specifically made to withstand earthquakes. The reactor at Koeberg is cooled by water from the Atlantic Ocean, which is pumped through a closed circuit at 80 tonnes per second.

The power plant’s construction started in 1976, and Unit 1 was synchronized to the grid on April 4, 1984. Unit 2 came next on July 25, 1985. Renovations have been ongoing to keep the power plant operational since then.

Eskom announced on September 10th, 2020, that six new steam generators would be installed in 2021. However, over one year, an “estimated 250 to 300 skilled persons” had “left Koeberg,” according to a 2022 Mail & Guardian report. This raised doubts about the plant’s ability to operate as intended in the near future. Koeberg is owned and run by Eskom, the nation’s sole national electricity provider.

Reported on 13 March 2022

Steam Generator Replacement Works at Koeberg Unit 2 in South Africa Pushed Back

Following a study done in collaboration with Framatome, a French nuclear reactor business owned by Électricité de France, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Assystem, Eskom, the South African electricity public utility, has announced the postponement of the steam generator replacement (SGR) work on its three generators at Koeberg Unit 2 to the next planned outage cycle in August 2023.

Jan Oberholzer, Eskom COO explained that this is because some facilities, notably the construction of the building that would house the radioactive steam generators being removed, were considered insufficient to assure that the replacement could be completed within specified quality and time.

The decision to postpone the Steam Generator Replacement Works at Koeberg Unit 2

According to Oberholzer the decision to postpone the project was made early this month, against the backdrop of continuous supply challenges, which posed a load-shedding danger.  The main aim of the postponement is to ensure that the unit’s 920 MW was accessible so as to avoid impacting South Africa’s electricity supply (essentially trying to stave off load shedding) during the high-demand winter season.

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Eskom said that together with Framatome also assessed whether the SGR work that still needed to be done would be completed by the preset due date of June 2022 and concluded that there is a high likelihood that continuing with the work would result in the unit being returned to the grid later than initially planned.

Plans to prolong the life of the Koeberg power station

The Steam Generator Replacement Works at Koeberg Unit 2 is reportedly very essential to Eskom’s determination to prolong the life of the Koeberg power station beyond the existing operating lives of Units 1 and 2 in 2024 and 2025 respectively.

The utility has begun the process of securing a life extension to 2044 and 2045, in that order, and the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) received an application from Eskom for an extension of Koeberg’s operating life on May 10, 2021. The NNR intended to receive Koeberg’s Long Term Operations, or LTO, application safety case by July 2022, following which an adjudication and public consultations would take place.

Reported on 8th January 2021

Koeberg Unit 1 in South Africa taken offline for repairs

South Africa’s power utility company Eskom has announced that Koeberg Unit 1 in South Africa has been taken offline due to an increasing leak rate that was observed on one of three steam generators. This was confirmed by other plant measurement readings. Although the leak rate was well within the safety limits, a conservative decision was made to take Koeberg Unit 1 offline for repairs.
During this period the unit will also undergo its routine maintenance and refueling, which was originally scheduled to start in February. The unit is expected to return to service in May 2021.
The steam generator is a tubular heat exchanger which mechanically dries the steam produced during the nuclear power generation process. Shutting down the plant takes several hours, and the process is still underway – once shut down, fuel will be unloaded from the reactor core to enable maintenance activities to be conducted, and the cause of the increased leak rate to be addressed.
There is no risk to plants, personnel, or the environment. Unit 2 of the only nuclear power plant in Africa continues to safely operate and generate at full power.

Stage 2 load shedding

Eskom further informed the public that Stage 2 load shedding will be implemented between 22:00 and 05:00 on the 6th and 7th of January. The load shedding is necessary in order to recover and preserve the emergency generation reserves that have been utilized to support the system during the week following the earlier-than-planned shutdown of Koeberg Unit 1 and other units whose return to service has been delayed.

“We currently have 6 672MW on planned maintenance, while another 12 073MW of capacity is unavailable due to unplanned maintenance. Eskom teams are working around the clock to return as many of these units to service as soon as possible,” said the statement.

Eskom further urged the public to reduce electricity consumption in order to help minimize load-shedding. The system remains vulnerable and unpredictable. Loadshedding is implemented as a last resort in order to protect the integrity of the system.

Jan 2015

South Africa to run maintenance on Koeberg power station

South Africa’s State-owned power utility firm Eskom is set to take half of the Koeberg power station offline in order to run maintenance operations on the power station to improve its functioning. This comes amidst reports of a higher possible load shedding to grip South Africa in February.

However, the maintenance scheduled for next month on one of the two 900MW units of Cape Town’s nuclear power station has raised concerns as to whether it will still be able to supply the region with electricity during the maintenance period.

A spokesperson from Eskom has said they want to bring a number of generators online this week to supply power after the maintenance and repair, and this could alleviate power problems the country is facing.

Eskom recently noted that there would be an increase in demand this week from Monday through to Wednesday, outstripping capacity. There would be a provision of 28497MW to 30549MW capacity available for use from Friday to Sunday this week according to Eskom, which would get hold of the demand expected to rise between 27 726 MW to 29 603 MW at the same time.

Open gas turbines would be available for use on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and will have a capacity of 29291 MW, 29 827 MW, and 29 860 MW respectively. Eskom was expecting a demand of 30 388 MW, 30 577 MW, and 30 555 MW for the three days respectively after a demand slump over the weekend.

Eskom has said it averted a load-shedding crisis last week by using diesel sources and units that had been under maintenance. Koeberg is a nuclear power station.

Reported on 11th September 2014

Ereva to go on with US$ 0.39bn contract of installing 6 steam generators at Koeberg nuclear power station, South Africa

South Africa’s Electricity Utility firm Eskom recently noted that it would go ahead and sign the US $0.39bn contract with Areva, despite a dispute it had with the losing bidder. This contract was put in place for the replacement of six steam generators at the Koeberg nuclear power station located in Cape Town.

Westinghouse Electricity Company, who lost the bid for procurement, still sort for legal action against Eskom from the Gauteng Local Division of the High Court, to have the Electricity Utility firm supply documents to support its decision to give the contract to another bidder.

The procurement process for generators at Koeberg nuclear power station by Eskom started in 2011 and in mid-August, the electricity company awarded the contract to Areva, though it wasn’t signed immediately due to commercial matters.

The contract entailed the manufacture, and installation of the six new steam generators in the Koeberg nuclear power station in 2018, and the alignment of installation with planned maintenance operations. Westinghouse Electric Company, later in August, interdicted the contract saying that the whole process had been compromised.

However, the Acting Group Executive for Technology and Commercial activity for Eskom Matshela Koko noted that the company did not have any restrictions as to why they should not sign the contract.

Koko further noted that Westinghouse Electric Company had never been the preferred bidder in the process, and there was no inconsistency on the technical team.

Westinghouse indicated that disclosure of appropriate documents for the Koeberg nuclear power station tender would place it in a strong position of action against Eskom.

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