Koeberg Unit 2
Koeberg nuclear power plant. Source: Bjorn Rudner

In South Africa, Eskom plans on doubling its maintenance efforts including taking Unit 2 of its nuclear power plant off the grid for a month.

The state-owned utility reports a significant reduction in demand for electricity as the COVID-19 national lockdown takes full effect.

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Electricity usage has dropped by between 7,500MW and 9,000MW since the lockdown came into effect last week. This has allowed Eskom to operate without the need to implement loadshedding.

As such, the utility is making use of the opportunity of the low demand to carry out important short-term maintenance of its generation infrastructure.

“We have increased planned maintenance to 9,032MW, while unplanned outages or breakdowns have been reduced to 8,572MW as at 16:10 on Wednesday [1 April],” announced Eskom in a statement.

These figures compare to the planned maintenance of 4,256MW and unplanned outages or breakdowns of 12,175MW on 25 March 2020, the last day before the national lockdown.

Koeberg Unit 2 part of planned maintenance

In order to protect the integrity of the system, Eskom has taken some generation units offline.

“From midnight on Friday, 3 April 2020, we will add Koeberg Unit 2 to these units, which are all available to return to service at short notice should the need arise. Koeberg Unit 2 is scheduled to return to service by 30 April 2020, if not called before then,” said Eskom.

Furthermore, the utility explained that as part of protecting the integrity of the power system, Eskom has also issued force majeure notices to the wind independent power producers.

“These notices serve to alert the wind IPPs of the possibility that Eskom may from time to time curtail their supply to the grid during the national lockdown. Should this remote possibility happen, the IPPs will be afforded one day of relief for every day, or part thereof, of lost production. This will ensure none of the wind IPPs are worse off than before the force majeure.”  

Find out about the South Africa IPP Office here.