Home South African Koeberg Unit 1 steam generators replaced, set to come online soon

Koeberg Unit 1 steam generators replaced, set to come online soon

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Eskom has announced that stream generators on Koeberg’s Unit 1 have been replaced successfully and the unit is expected to be synchronised to the grid.

After several delays, Eskom has announced that stream generators on Koeberg’s Unit 1 have been replaced. File picture: Henk Kruger, ANA

AFTER several delays, Eskom has announced that stream generators on Koeberg’s Unit 1 have been replaced successfully and the unit is expected to be synchronised to the grid by the end of the month.

Once the Unit 1 commissioning is complete, the three steam generators on Unit 2 are scheduled for replacement, leaving doubts about the impact on solving current load shedding challenges.

Eskom said: “The replacement of the steam generators was identified in the licence application for long-term operation of Koeberg that was submitted to the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) as being a prerequisite for the station to operate safely beyond its original licensed operating period of 40 years (beyond 2024).

“The completion of this long and challenging outage on Unit 1 through the commitment, sacrifice and hard work of all the Eskom employees, contractors, partners, and suppliers is a huge milestone in the process of extending the life of Koeberg and a positive development in the execution of Eskom’s Generation Operational Recovery Programme.

“Currently the water in the reactor circuit, which includes the three steam generators, has been increased to its operating pressure and temperature (155 bar and 300ºC). The process required numerous tests of the safety systems, with more tests still to be performed before and after the start-up of the nuclear reaction. The completion of the commissioning tests will end a long but safe steam generator replacement journey and signal the return of Unit 1 to commercial operation.”

Energy activist and a member of the Koeberg Alert Alliance, Peter Becker, said now was the time that Eskom should keep Unit 2 online, apart from refuelling, until there is the new capacity to replace it.

“It has become very hard to take the time estimates coming from Koeberg seriously. Initially the work in preparation for a 20-year life extension work was to take five months per unit. Currently we are on 18 months per unit, with that figure increasing every time there is another announcement from Koeberg.

“Koeberg is useful now, in the height of the load shedding crisis. After 2026 there will be so much new capacity coming online that Koeberg will be insignificant.

Unfortunately, Eskom seems to be determined to take the units offline for extended outages now when they are most needed, in the hope of getting a life extension licence and having them available when they are no longer needed,” he said.

Civil nuclear engineer Hügo Krüger, however, said Koeberg was a good investment for South Africa.

“Nuclear energy is the most affordable in South Africa by far. Koeberg is 40 years old, you can surely get to 60 and we can get to 80 but we’ll have to do maintenance.

Koeberg supplies 40% of the Western Cape’s electricity,” he said.

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