CAPE TOWN – The replacement of steam generators at the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station is set to cost Eskom R20 billion.
This came to light at an Eskom briefing on Thursday, where the power utility confirmed performance from the generation side, the coal fleet “remains unsatisfactory” with loadshedding still very likely.
Eskom said Unit 2 of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station has recently been taken offline for a long-term outage with a major project to extend its operating life by another 20 years.
“Considering that the power station has been largely depreciated, the Steam Generator Replacement (SGR) project, at a budgeted R20 billion for both units, will enable Koeberg to continue to deliver zero-carbon electricity at a highly competitive cost, making the SGR project one of the most financially attractive projects in the Eskom portfolio.”
Eskom said it will use the maintenance and refuelling outage on Unit 2 to implement the SGR project which entails the replacement of the unit’s three steam generators.
“This operation is scheduled to take place over the next five months, during which time Unit 2’s 920MW contribution will not be available to supply the grid, further constraining an already tight supply situation,” Eskom said.
All other Koeberg long-term outage activities are continuing as scheduled with the formal application to extend the operating license already submitted to the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) and accepted for further processing, Eskom said.
The power producer maintained, “Koeberg continues to be one of the most reliable power stations on the Eskom generation fleet, with the cheapest primary energy costs.”
Meanwhile, Eskom group executive for Transmission, Segomoco Scheppers said the majority of the coal power stations were operating past the midway of their operational life, at an average of 42 years, resulting in high levels of breakdowns.
“As we continue to perform reliability maintenance and refurbishment projects to address lack of power station reliability, an elevated risk of loadshedding remains,” said Scheppers.
Scheppers added that Eskom will continue to rely on renewable energy sources to play a significant role to ease the pressure on the national grid, having contributed more than 3,500MW to the power system during the day on some days.
“On November 1, 2021, at 1pm, about 19% of the country’s demand was supplied by renewable generation. While this is still low, we expect renewables’ contribution to continue rising as additional capacity is brought online,” said Scheepers.
Eskom added that to date it had experienced 2,752 incidents of vandalism at a cost of around R200 million and it was owed R43 billion by municipalities in overdue debt.
In its generation department, which has about 12,000 employees, the utility added that it had been losing staff at an alarming rate.
Group executive for Generation, Phillip Dukashe said: “We have been losing about 37 employees per month, it varies with retirements, resignation and also death in service. The concern is the quality of the people that you lose.”