Eskom has been slapped with a R950 million penalty for delaying the project to replace Koeberg Power Station’s unit one steam generator, the Sunday Times reports.
The power utility delayed the replacement in a failed attempt to reduce load-shedding in June 2022. However, it was still forced to implement stage 4 power cuts despite delaying the scheduled maintenance.
The R950 million penalty was awarded to Framatome — the company contracted to manufacture and replace the six steam generators at the nuclear power station.
Koeberg’s unit one generator contributes 920MW to Eskom’s generation capacity, equivalent to nearly an entire stage of load-shedding.
The postponement of the steam generator replacement has left the power utility with a tight window to complete the project before Koeberg’s licence expires in mid-2024.
While Eskom says it cannot provide details on the total costs incurred through penalties awarded to Framatome, energy activist Peter Becker told the Sunday Times there are more than a hundred active disputes between the two companies.
The power station is now facing new delays, which could result in Eskom being slapped with more penalties. The power station has recorded 45 days of delays.
Koeberg’s steam generator replacements form part of Eskom’s life-extension project at the power station.
The project required each Koeberg unit to be shut down for a projected five months. However, it has faced numerous delays.
Unit 2 was switched off on 18 January 2022 and was supposed to reopen in June 2022. Unit 1 would then go through the same process, starting in October.
However, the critical replacement of Koeberg’s unit 1 steam generators was postponed to 2023.
The generation units’ downtimes contributed to the severe load-shedding experienced in 2022.
Delays in getting Koeberg unit 2 up and running on schedule resulted in an additional 900MW shortfall in August last year.
On 19 August 2022, the power utility warned South Africans of the risk of stage 2 load-shedding being implemented at short notice due to a mechanical problem with the generator.
“In order to rectify this, the unit has been safely shut down in accordance with nuclear operating procedure and the nuclear regulations,” the utility said.
“It has not yet been determined how long the repairs will take, but it could be up to five days, whereafter the unit will ramp up over three days.”
Koeberg’s unit 2 generator faced several setbacks over the course of the year. A timeline of its troubles is summarised below:
- January 2022 — Taken down for refuelling and maintenance
- March 2022 — Maintenance schedule adjusted after discovering containment building was not completed
- End June 2022 — Original planned date for return to service
- Mid-July 2022 — New date due to defects picked up during commissioning
- End July 2022 — Third revised date after unexpected issues detected in unit’s polar crane
- 5 August 2022 — Unit synchronisation begins, with ramp-up to full capacity expected within ten days
- 19 August 2022 — Unit taken offline due to mechanical problem with control rod
- 3 September 2022 — Unit trips at full capacity during control rod test.