Koeberg unit 1 is back

Eskom has successfully synchronised Koeberg Power Station’s unit 1 reactor to the grid after it had been offline for almost a year.

The reactor was taken offline for refuelling and the replacement of its steam generators in December 2022.

The power utility announced the achievement on Saturday, 18 November 2023. It said the outage is the longest in the power station’s history.

“This is a huge milestone in the generation operational recovery plan and Eskom’s strategic objectives,” it added.

Eskom said it will take Koeberg’s unit 2 reactor offline for similar work once unit 1 is stable and all commissioning tests are complete.

“For the duration of the Unit 1 outage, Unit 2 has been safely generating electricity to the grid and will continue to do so until the start of its next outage, which will include the replacement of its original three steam generators,” it said.

Eskom faced several delays during the unit 1 outage. However, it said the lessons it learnt will help it complete the work on unit 2 faster without compromising nuclear safety protocols.

The successful replacement of each unit’s steam generators is critical for extending Koeberg Power Station’s operating licence, which expires in July 2024.

“The replacement of steam generators is a huge milestone in the life of Koeberg as it was identified by Eskom as a prerequisite for the extension of the operating licence for Koeberg beyond its original design life of 40 years,” Eskom said.

“Eskom has already submitted a licence application to the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) for Koeberg’s operating life extension by an additional 20 years, which is being assessed by the NNR.”

The power utility will be under pressure to complete the work on unit 2 quickly.

According to energy expert Chris Yelland, delays — like those during the work on the unit 1 reactor — could put the operating licence renewal at risk.

“I’m not predicting that there will be a shutdown. I’m just saying that the longer these delays occur, and the more Eskom gets pushed into a corner, the greater the risk,” said Yelland.

“I think the risk is not insignificant at this point because of the fact that there is a lot that could go wrong.”

It is up to the NNR to decide if extending the licence by another 20 years is safe once the steam generator replacements are complete.

If Eskom can’t complete the work and get it relicensed in time, it will be forced to close the power plant.

With both reactors running at full load, Koeberg Power Station contributes 1,860MW to the grid, equivalent to approximately 5% of Eskom’s total generation.

Now read: Solar panels in South Africa are cheaper than ever as imports crash

Latest news

Partner Content

Show comments


Share this article
Koeberg unit 1 is back