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Ramokgopa ‘worried and extremely upset’ over Koeberg outage slips

The Koeberg station

The Koeberg station

Photo by Creamer Media

23rd July 2023

By: Terence Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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Electricity Minister Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa says he is “worried and also extremely upset” about developments at the Koeberg nuclear power station, where fears have increased that both units could be out simultaneously later this year owing to another Unit 1 outage slip.

Speaking during his weekly Energy Action Plan briefing, Ramokgopa said “he was none the wiser” about the status of the current Unit 1 outage, despite having met with Koeberg managers during the week.

He said he would be requesting the Eskom board to provide him with a full report regarding the status of the Unit 1 outage, which began on December 10 and was initially scheduled to continue for about 180 days and return to service in June.

The outage includes the replacement of the unit’s three steam generators; one of several prerequisites for securing a new licence to operate the unit for a further 20 years beyond its current July 2024 shutdown date.

Eskom is also seeking to secure a separation of Unit 2’s licence to reflect the fact that it entered into commercial operation more than a year after Unit 1 and should, thus, be allowed to continue to operate beyond July next year.

In March, Eskom confirmed that the initial Unit 1 return-to-service date was no longer achievable but indicated that it would be reintroduced before Unit 2 was shut in September for a similar outage.

It has since emerged that the schedule might well have slipped again and that Unit 1 may now be returned only in October, by when the Unit 2 outage could be under way leaving the loadshedding-prone South African grid without more than 1 800 MW of generation.

Ramokgopa did not respond to a question regarding whether a forensic investigation would be launched into the delays and possible financial irregularities at Koeberg, saying that the launching of such a probe would be the prerogative of the board.

“Where there are significant failures in delivering a project of this magnitude valid and genuine questions will be asked and they must be responded to.

“If they get to be responded to through a forensic investigation, so be it,” Ramokgopa said.

He added that he had already formulated a personal view of the issues confronting Koeberg, but that he was not in a position “to ventilate them in public”.

“But I do say that is the basis of me saying I'm worried and also extremely upset about what is unfolding at Koeberg.”

The Minister also did not comment on the cost of the project to extend the life of Koeberg.

The cost was initially pegged at R20-billion, but it has been confirmed that the actual cost will be far higher.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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