Big win for Eskom – finally

 ·18 Nov 2023

Eskom has announced that Unit 1 at South Africa’s only nuclear power station – Koeberg – has been successfully synchronised to the grid.

The unit was out for nearly a year – the longest ever outage at the station, with three of the original steam generators replaced.

The unit was taken offline in December 2022 and was initially set to come back online in June 2023, but following several delays, the completion date was pushed back to November.

The unit’s return adds just under 1,000 MW to the grid – roughly one stage of load shedding.

“This is a huge milestone in the Generation operational recovery plan and Eskom’s strategic objectives,” Eskom said.

Unit 2 has been generating electricity through Unit 1’s outage and will continue to do so until its own outage, which will involve its original three steam generators also being replaced.

The outage at Unit 2 will only start once all the required commissioning tests are finished.

The Unit 2 outage will be similar in scope, and Eskom said it has learnt valuable lessons from the Unit 1 outage. This should ensure that the outage time will be reduced while maintaining Nuclear Safety standards.

“The replacement of steam generators is a huge milestone in the life of Koeberg as it was identified by Eskom as a prerequisite for the extension of the operating licence for Loeberg beyond its original design life of 40 years,” the embattled power utility said.

“Eskom has already submitted a licence application to the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) for Koeberg’s operating life extension by an additional 20 years, which is being assessed by the NNR.”

Koeberg is South Africa’s only nuclear power station and adds a total capacity of 1,860 MW to the grid – about 5% of all the electricity generated by Eskom.

The two reactors at Koeberg are the largest generating units on the continent and have been in operation for nearly 40 years.

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