South Africa-Business-Energy

S/Africa nuke plant revamped to extend lifespan

APA-Pretoria (South Africa)

South Africa’s power utility, Eskom, is overhauling its Koeberg nuclear plant with the aim of extending its lifespan by at least 20 years, Eskom has said.

Revamping the 1,860-MW facility comes as Eskom struggles to produce enough electricity to meet demand and is grappling to address construction glitches, and cost overruns at two new coal-fired power stations.

The nuclear plant is one of the cheapest to operate in the utility’s fleet, according to the cash-strapped power supplier, adding that it “has been well-maintained over its 35-year history and hence only a relatively small number of large components require replacement.”

“These replacements have been timed to so they coincide with routine unit shutdowns for refueling and maintenance,” it added on Thursday.

Located on the Atlantic Ocean coast, some 27 km north of Cape Town, Koeberg’s first unit was completed in 1984 -- and the second a year later.

The plant would have been decommissioned in 2024, assuming it operated for 40 years. Eskom said it began planning the overhaul in 2010, has committed the necessary funds and is implementing it in several stages.

Water storage tanks used for refueling one of Koeberg’s units have already been installed, a new reactor vessel cover is being manufactured and the plant’s steam generators are scheduled to be replaced in 2021, it said.

The utility did not specify how much it is spending on the works. The plant, however, had performed “exceptionally well,” delivering consistent power supply to the grid, and the cost of keeping it going has been insignificant, Eskom Chief Executive Officer Phakamani Hadebe said. 

NM/as/APA

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