Eskom’s big Koeberg problem

Kgosientsho Ramokgopa

Eskom’s refurbishment of Koeberg has experienced further delays, which may result in both of the nuclear power station’s units being out of service simultaneously – ensuring load-shedding will remain elevated into 2024. 

Koeberg has two generating units capable of producing 920MW each, roughly equivalent to one stage of load-shedding per generating unit.

The nuclear power plant is being refurbished to extend its operating life, with the steam generators in both generating units set to be replaced. 

The refurbishment was set to begin in January 2022 but has been set back by numerous delays. 

Unit 1 has been out of service since January, and its refurbishment was set to be completed by July, with Unit 2 going out in September. 

However, Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said he is “very, very worried” that the refurbishment is behind schedule at a media briefing on Monday morning. 

Ramokgopa has requested a more detailed report about the delays at Koeberg and will visit the power plant later this week. 

“It is something that requires urgent attention. Once we have an overlap of Unit 1 not coming onstream and Unit 2 having to be taken out, the net result will be that we will have lost another 920MW.”

Koeberg’s operating licence expires in July 2024, after which it must close unless the plant has been refurbished and relicensed. 

The National Nuclear Regulator will determine whether it is safe to extend the life of Koeberg by another 20 years after the refurbishment has been completed or the licence expires. 

Unit 2 will have to be taken offline in October as its steam generator will take six months to replace. 

The steam generator replacement on Unit 1 was originally supposed to occur between February and June 2021 and between January and May 2022 on Unit 2, but both projects were delayed to 2023.


Top JSE indices