Unit 1 at Koeberg nuclear power station is expected to be synchronised to the grid by the end of the month after the unit’s three steam generators were successfully replaced.
“Thereafter, the unit will start supplying electricity to the national grid. However, the output will be ramped up to full power over two weeks while commissioning tests are performed,” Eskom said on Friday.
The unit, which generates 920MW, has been out of commission since December last year for maintenance. The outage was expected to be for six months.
“This marks another milestone on Eskom’s generation operational recovery plan which is aimed at sustainably improving generation performance by improving the energy availability factor to an average of 65% by March 2024.”
Eskom said though it had experienced some delays, the process of returning Unit 1 to service was intentionally thorough, as it was essential to ensure all the safety systems were functioning correctly and that the unit was ready to operate reliably for the duration of the upcoming cycle.
The power utility said the three steam generators on Unit 2 are scheduled for replacement in the upcoming Unit 2 outage, which will start once the Unit 1 commissioning is complete.
“Though this outage start date has been shifted to mid-November, the Koeberg team, together with the main contractor and their subcontractors, are using the experience gained from the installation on Unit 1 to reduce the outage period required to replace the steam generators on Unit 2.”
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).
“Hopefully, should the NNR award the licences to Koeberg to operate beyond 2024, the station will continue to operate safely and reliably for another 20 years, as it has been the case for the past 39 years.”