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Just in-This decision poses Significant risks for South Africa

R20bn life extension of Koeberg power station poses significant risks for South Africa (

Editor’s observe: The opinions in this newsletter are the writer’s, as posted by means of our content companion, and do now not constitute the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Preparations are under way for the alternative of the six steam mills at Eskom’s 1,840MW Koeberg nuclear electricity station, in what South Africa’s national power software says is the most complicated project undertaken at the nuclear facility since it become commissioned a few 36 years ago in 1985.

The replacement of three of the steam mills at the 920MW nuclear reactor unit 2 is about to start in January 2022 in an outage planned to final a hundred and fifty five days. Thereafter, if all goes nicely, Eskom will begin the replacement of a 2nd set of 3 steam turbines on the 920MW reactor unit 1 in October 2022, in a similar a hundred and fifty five-day deliberate outage.

In total, consequently, Eskom could be without at the least 920MW of base supply from the nuclear energy plant for approximately 10 months among January 2022 and February 2023. This will serve to lower Eskom’s average energy availability element (EAF) below the contemporary EAF of sixty two% on Eskom’s fleet of electricity stations for the beyond 12 months, and to growth the opportunity of load losing during this era.

The steam generator alternative task is the most important a part of a mid-lifestyles refurbishment and safety upgrade at the Koeberg nuclear electricity station. The contemporary operating licence expires in 2024 and those improvements are required by using the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) to extend the running existence of the nuclear facility by a further 20 years.

Budget and scope of labor

The preliminary existence-extension venture changed into budgeted at R20-billion in 2010, and Eskom has confirmed that whilst there had been modifications to the initial scope of work over time because of numerous research and inspections conducted, the general price range remains unchanged.

Eskom explains that there were a few additions to the scope of labor, but that there have additionally been numerous exclusions — inclusive of the alternative of the condenser tubes which is no longer needful. Thus, typical, there is a reduced scope of labor, despite the fact that the general budget remains at R20-billion in 2021 rands.

The biggest single item inside the scope of work is the alternative of the steam generators at a fee of approximately R5-billion. Already there had been considerable manufacturing troubles and delays within the substitute of the steam turbines from the unique planned finishing touch date of 2018.

The 3-12 months delay resulted from the scrapping of the initial steam generator forgings made in France, and the re-manufacture of the steam mills in China. However, Eskom says the extra prices worried were borne by using the contractor (Areva/Framatome), and that the overall value of the steam generator replacement, consequently, remains inside the unique price range.

Major costs

A wide breakdown of the primary objects and charges making up the R20-billion scope of work for the life-extension works is disclosed with the aid of Eskom as follows:

R5-billion: Replacement of the three steam generators on unit 1 and the three steam mills on unit 2, by Framatome/Areva.

R7-billion: Balance of steam generator alternative venture, which include extra than 20 additional plant changes attributable to safety analyses and engineering studies; changes to the feedwater supply and heating systems, condensate extraction gadget, turbine steam control machine and moisture separation machine; different guide contracts and placement facilities; undertaking management and licensing costs; hobby all through production; and contingencies.

R1-billion: Unit 1 reactor head, control rod force mechanism and reactor in-center instrumentation cable alternative. The reactor head on the Unit 2 became changed in 2009/10, and isn't always blanketed inside the budget of R20-billion, however become one by one blanketed in the Koeberg maintenance and repair price range.

6-billion: Replacement and growth of the PTR garage tanks used to store borated water for the reactor cavity and spent gas cooling machine.

R2-billion: Long-time period outage particular upkeep and inspections on account of the protection studies.

1-billion: Procurement for external event resilience — bendy emergency equipment to manage severe outside occasions.

Undisclosed cost: Repairs, changes and monitoring of the reactor containment building to include cathodic safety to save you corrosion of metallic reinforcing (rebar) in the concrete.

Undisclosed fee: Replacement of the heater elements at the pressurisers.

Undisclosed price: Other plant modifications and enhancements for reliability and sustainability, along with transformer replacements, digital system upgrades, safety gadget improvements, cooling water structures, piping and heat exchangers.

Undisclosed price: Ageing research, investigations and safety evaluations for the lifestyles-extension of the plant, and practise of stories to the NNR, which includes the protection-case record to the NNR on the cease of November 2021, for approval of the extension of the running licence in 2024.


Eskom has indicated that the cost of upkeep, refurbishment or alternative of electrical system which include excessive-, medium- and occasional-voltage switchgear, circuit breakers, transformers, electric safety gadget and instrumentation are not covered inside the R20-billion life-extension finances, as these items fall inside Koeberg’s regular upkeep budget.

Similarly, any work completed on the steam mills inclusive of the replacement of the turbine rotors and rewinding of the electrical strength generators is not covered inside the R20-billion price range, however is protected via the regular protection price range. Eskom says there may be significant online circumstance monitoring gadget supplied for the turbines and mills, and this paintings is therefore carried out as and when required, and does now not form part of the existence-extension mission.

Eskom also showed that upkeep and renovation of the cooling seawater intake to the energy station is ongoing. Eskom added that the seawater intake is structurally sound, however due to the competitive saltwater environment, civil paintings renovation and maintenance have been beneath way because the begin of Koeberg. This paintings maintains even these days, and could be ongoing over the subsequent two decades following the life extension. Again, Eskom says these costs do no longer form part of the R20-billion existence extension price range, but are included by the normal upkeep and repair budget for Koeberg.

Additional risks

At a recent media briefing, Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer indicated an additional hazard to the Koeberg lifestyles-extension undertaking due to the lack of key professional personnel on the nuclear electricity plant. He said that he become “apprehensive but assured” that the extra making plans work achieved would permit Eskom to execute the works properly with none principal problems.

However, the very last safety-case record for the lifestyles-extension undertaking nonetheless needs to be submitted via Eskom to the NNR by the cease of November 2021 for approval. This offers a completely tight timeline for Eskom to cope with any troubles raised by using the NNR, right over the festive season, earlier than the first outage in January 2022

Eskom cannot say for sure that there may be no surprises within the reaction from the NNR to its protection-case submission at the cease of November 2021. However, except there are some “curved balls” springing up, Eskom does now not foresee any surprising new requirements coming from the NNR.

In complicated paintings of this nature, there's usually a danger that surprising troubles and delays can rise up that were not first of all anticipated. However, Eskom believes that any such troubles can be dealt with within the normal path of events.

Let us wish that Eskom is proper… DM

Chris Yelland is dealing with director of EE Business Intelligence.

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