Koeberg power unit fault may only be fixed by Sunday – Eskom

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

State power utility Eskom has said the fault at Koeberg nuclear power station’s Unit 1, which triggered stage 4 load shedding on Tuesday, may only be fixed by Sunday.

Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha made the revelation in an interview with Fin24 on Wednesday.

In a statement on Tuesday, the struggling utility said the “Seawater Circulating Water Pump” had been damaged.

930MW taken off grid

It therefore had to disconnect Unit 1, which supplies 930MW to the national grid. Eskom maintained that the nuclear reactor “remains safe.”

Eskom said, “The loss of approximately 930MW in Koeberg puts further strain on the generation fleet, necessitating an increase in the stage of load shedding.

“As the ageing fleet is currently constrained, unpredictable and vulnerable, we advise South Africans that the stage of load shedding may change at short notice should there be any unexpected change in the generation system performance. Demand has also risen incrementally since January.”

As of yesterday evening, unplanned breakdowns across Eskom’s power stations amounted to 12,046MW, while planned breakdowns stood at 6,155MW.

Ramaphosa on selling old power stations

Koeberg supplies a total of 1,860MW to the national grid. It began producing electricity in 1984 and will reach the end of its design life by 2024. However, Eskom reportedly plans to extend it for 20 more years.

During a briefing with the South African National Editors’ Forum in Cape Town last week, Ramaphosa expressed interest in the idea of selling Eskom’s ageing power stations when they are due for decommissioning.

He said, “There are quite a number of power stations that will be decommissioned and there are a number of players who have come to the fore and have said, ‘We can run these power stations much more effectively and profitably than Eskom; when you get to a point of decommissioning them, sell them to us. We will generate electricity [and] pump it into the grid.’

“It is an option that we should look at. I’m most interested in us looking at that option. If we do, it would then give workers [and] communities in the area the transition that we’ve been talking about, because the towns where those power stations are located would die if those power stations are decommissioned.”

However, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has expressed its vehement opposition to the idea because it would mean selling Eskom’s generating capacity to the “greedy capitalist establishment.”

It said, “The day Ramaphosa announces the actual sale of Eskom power stations will be the day the EFF announces a campaign on #RamaphosaMustGo and the campaign will be more militant than the #ZumaMustGo campaign.”

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