Eskom koeberg steam generator

The first of six replacement steam generators has arrived in Cape Town. Photo: Eskom

Eskom elated over arrival of first Koeberg replacement generator

The project, approved in 2010, will cost an estimated R20 billion, but Eskom say the generator’s arrival is a proud milestone.

Eskom koeberg steam generator

The first of six replacement steam generators has arrived in Cape Town. Photo: Eskom

No, R2D2 has not had a massive growth spurt. What you’re looking at is Eskom’s latest and greatest purchase – the first of six 380 ton replacement steam generators that are set to extend Koeberg nuclear power station’s operational life by 20 years. 

Eskom are brimming with excitement having received the generator to help realise their 2010 ambition to bolster Africa’s only nuclear power plant, something they say is the most expensive and intensive maintenance undertaking a nuclear plant can embark on. 

Eskom’s new generators to extend Koeberg lifespan by 20 years 

In a statement released on Wednesday 30 September, Eskom explained the challenge they faced to ensure the safe delivery of the new steam generator. 

“They are being transported by road from Cape Town Harbour over a period of eight hours per steam generator, covering the distance of approximately 40kms,” they said. “The trailer used to transport the steam generator is the longest in South Africa, coming in at 42 meters in length and requiring four trucks to transport each of the steam generators.”

They said that the first three steam generators will replace the current infrastructure that has been in operation at Koeberg since the first unit was connected to the national grid in 1984. The installation of the generator into Unit 1 will take place between February and June 2021.

“They will be housed in the Replacement Steam Generator Facility that has been constructed on the Koeberg site, until the old steam generators are removed from the plant during the unit’s next outage,” they said. 

Generator replacement costs R20 billion 

Eskom have faced a plethora of challenges over the last decade, not least of all crippling financial setbacks resulting from state-orchestrated looting by senior executives. Despite this, and their ongoing efforts to recoup the R3.8 billion they insist was stolen from them during a decade of turmoil, they have managed to fund the R20 billion project and can’t wait to get going. 

“The steam generator replacement is a key part of the larger programme to extend Koeberg’s operating life, which was budgeted to cost an estimated R20 billion, and will be the best investment into sustainable and less carbon-intensive electricity generation infrastructure that Eskom can buy,” they said. 

One can only imagine the cogs beginning to turn over at rival political parties, who will certainly be keen to learn exactly how the lucrative project is being financed. 

Eskom assured of project safety  

Eskom said that the project has been approved in terms “extensive engineering analyses and safety studies”, which concluded that the new steam generators can be safely installed, commissioned and operated, “thereby enabling the power station to continue generating electricity beyond its original 40-years operational life”.

“Steam generator replacement is he most intensive and most expensive project that a nuclear power station can undertake, and several stations internationally have already done so successfully,” they said. 

In addition, these analyses and other studies are being reviewed by the National Nuclear Regulator, to approve the installation subsequent to their review and acceptance. 

Old infrastructure to be properly disposed of 

Eskom said that the installation is planned in a way that will limit disruption of electricity generation 

“The steam generator replacement has been planned into Koeberg’s outage schedule and Eskom’s generation plan.”

As far as the old generators go, the Nuclear Radioactive Waste Disposal institute (NRWDI) will be responsible for storing them at the Koeberg site, before packaging and dismantling them for final disposal at a nuclear waste repository.

The replacement of steam generators at Unit 2, which is currently undergoing a refuelling outage until mid-October, has also been planned to coincide with the unit’s next maintenance and refuelling outage in order to minimise generation downtime on the unit. The replacement will occur between January and March 2022.