nuclear plant
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Koeberg nuclear power plant is down! That’s a dramatic statement and completely untrue.

Originally published in the ESI Africa final newsletter for 2019 on 11/03/2020

Yesterday, Africa’s only nuclear power station, Koeberg, announced that it has one unit out of action—not the whole plant. The unit is out of action due to damage to the seawater circulating water pump.

It’s just one unit, but this equates to approximately 930MW lost, putting further strain on the country’s generation fleet. Adding to this news, Eskom estimates it will be several days (I’ve heard four days been bandied) for repair work to be completed and bringing the unit back into operation.

This predicament is ill-timed as South Africa’s power utility, which holds the monopoly on generation, is struggling to supply sufficient capacity to keep the lights on.

It’s a situation that had South Africans raise concerns and questions on social media, including:

  • Is this another Fukushima?
  • What is the root cause?
  • Exactly how long will it take to fix?
  • Why are there no spare parts on-site?
  • Is the standby pump also broken?

These questions and concerns are reasonable, but there is no need to panic as Koeberg, like all nuclear power plants, is maintained and managed under strict international regulations (not to be confused with guidelines).

Depending on what went wrong – Eskom will eventually issue a statement after its investigation – the replacement parts should be at a central store, or will need to be manufactured in South Africa, or at worst, imported from abroad.

It’s this ongoing instability of the country’s power generation market that could eventually completely tarnish the continent’s generation market prospects.

To unpack this statement, we have invited industry-related experts to discuss the issues and prospects. This conversation will be outside of the debate around which technology is best and purely unpack the power generation market.

After the webinar, the conversation will continue at the African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa conference and exhibition taking place on 12-14 May in Cape Town.

To get a head start on the topic register for the free live webinar on 24 March as we challenge the experts to address what stakeholders can realistically expect in the generation market.

Until next week.