Koeberg Unit 1 taken offline due to increasing leak rate

Eskom has taken Koeberg Unit 1 offline for repairs after an increasing leak rate was observed on one of its three steam generators on Sunday.

Though the leak rate was within safety limits, Eskom says it took the decision to take Koeberg Unit 1 offline for repairs and routine maintenance and refuelling, which was originally scheduled to start during February.

The unit is expected to return to service during May 2021.

“The steam generator is a tubular heat exchanger which mechanically dries the steam produced during the nuclear power generation process. Shutting down the plant takes several hours, and the process is still underway – once shut down, fuel will be unloaded from the reactor core to enable maintenance activities to be conducted, and the cause of the increased leak rate to be addressed. There is no risk to plant, personnel, or the environment. Unit 2 continues to safely operate and generate at full power,” it said.

This comes just days after Eskom suspended load shedding due to the low demand for electricity. The power utility said in a statement last week that it would use the lower demand opportunity to replenish the emergency generation reserves in preparation for the higher demand expected during January as economic activity resumes.

“During this period Eskom will also continue to pursue increased reliability maintenance as planned and previously communicated. While this will put pressure on the generation plant, maintenance is necessary in order to improve the reliability and performance of the power stations.

“We currently have 9 170MW on planned maintenance, while another 11 334MW capacity is unavailable due to unplanned maintenance. Eskom teams are working around the clock to return as many of these units to service as soon as possible,” it said.

It has requested the South Africans to continue using electricity sparingly as the system remains vulnerable and unstable.

-The Citizen

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Koeberg Unit 1