The closure of Koeberg’s Unit 1 since January 2022 has cost the South African economy R120 billion so far on top of the cost of refurbishing the power plant.
This is according to energy analyst Clyde Mallinson who spoke to Newzroom Afrika following the Electricity Minister’s update on South Africa’s Energy Action Plan.
Mallinson has previously argued that Koeberg should not be refurbished at all, as the country desperately needs its reliable supply of electricity.
Each of Koeberg’s units can generate 920MW of electricity, roughly equivalent to one stage of load-shedding.
South Africa’s only nuclear plant could help the deterioration of Eskom’s coal fleet, while other energy experts have warned that Eskom’s grid cannot operate without the stabilising influence of Koeberg.
“I would prefer Koeberg to bat for us until the end of July 2024 and then retire gracefully,” Mallinson said.
He also said that Eskom no longer has the ability to execute a project such as the refurbishment of a nuclear power plant. “They are flirting with their licence. It has been a mess.”
The refurbishment of Koeberg began 18 months ago, with the replacement of its two steam generators expected to take six months each.
Unit 1 is still offline, and its steam generator is yet to be replaced, while Unit 2 is expected to go offline in September.
Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said he is “very, very worried” that the refurbishment is behind schedule at a media briefing on Monday.
Ramokgopa also warned that there might be an overlap where both of Koeberg’s units are off simultaneously.
Using an estimated cost of unserved electricity of R10/KWh, Mallinson said that Unit 1 of Koeberg being unoperational for 18 months has cost the South African economy R120 billion.
This estimate is conservative as the City of Cape Town uses a cost of unserved electricity of R100/KWh. Using the City of Cape Town’s estimate, Unit 1 being offline for 18 months has cost the economy R1.2 trillion.