Unit 1 of the Koeberg nuclear power station outside Cape Town was returned back to service on Tuesday morning after a statutory three-month refuelling and maintenance programme.
The Unit 1, which currently has a total output of 900MW, will help to further stabilise the power system ahead of the start of the cold peak periods this winter, according to Eskom.
There has not been load shedding since Thursday last week, and Eskom said its plan is to continue reducing the maintenance backlog without having to implement load shedding.
“The focus of our maintenance drive is to ensure long-term reliability and sustainability of our power generating plants. Since December last year, the availability of Eskom’s plant performance has improved from 65% to 75%,” said Eskom’s acting CEO Brian Molefe.
“Going forward, we plan to continue with our maintenance programme in an effort to reduce the backlog that has accumulated over the past few years. Most importantly, we plan to execute the maintenance drive without having to implement load shedding.”
Molefe urged all electricity users to continue using electricity sparingly in order to allow Eskom enough space to continue with the requisite maintenance.
Unit 1 has been on a planned maintenance and refuelling programme since February this year.
“This was a big outage for Koeberg, with probably the biggest maintenance scope of work ever undertaken at the station, reflecting the typical approach for a plant at this stage of its life,” he explained.
The scheduled shutdown of Koeberg Unit 1 was part of Eskom’s overall maintenance programme for its fleet of power stations. Every 16 to 18 months, each of the two units at Koeberg is shut down for refuelling, inspection and maintenance.
The routine shutdowns are scheduled so as to avoid having both units out of service at the same time and to avoid the winter months in each year.
During these routine planned outages, one third of the used nuclear fuel is replaced with new fuel.
“Statutory inspections and maintenance are performed and modifications will ensure that international safety standards continue to be met or that improvements of the plant’s performance are implemented,” said Eskom.