Eskom to take Koeberg Power Station unit offline

Eskom will take unit 2 of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station offline on Monday, 17 January, for a regular refuelling and maintenance outage that is scheduled for five months.

“This will be the 25th refuelling outage on unit 2 since commissioning and will also see the replacement of the unit’s three steam generators. During this outage the reactor pressure vessel head, which houses the nuclear fuel while the station is in operation, will also be replaced, Eskom said in a statement.

It said that the Koeberg unit 1 outage, of a similar duration, will follow later in the year during which the unit 1 steam generators will also be replaced; its reactor pressure vessel head was replaced several years ago.

The Koeberg units, at 920MW each, are the largest generating units on the African continent, the state company said. “The Koeberg outages are planned at times of the year when the impact on the overall electricity supply is minimised as far as possible.

“The extended unavailability of the units due to the planned long outages does mean the electricity supply system may be under additional strain during the coming year.”

“This is going to be a long, but needed outage – the first of its kind for Koeberg. Our staff are prepared and committed to make history by ensuring success of this project,” said Riedewaan Bakardien, Eskom’s chief nuclear officer.

“Nuclear safety is the paramount factor. We will progress the outage work diligently, making sure nuclear safety and safety of plant, personnel and public is top of mind.”

Unlike other types of power stations, where fuel can be added to continue generating power, the fuel at a nuclear power station is sealed inside a reactor vessel, which is opened for refuelling every 15 to 18 months, Eskom said.

“This is also a time when the station will perform certain required inspections on equipment and perform more intrusive maintenance that cannot be performed when the unit is online, it said.

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Eskom to take Koeberg Power Station unit offline