The Koeberg unit that went offline on Sunday due to a technical fault will be fully functional by the weekend; however, it will then be shut down next Monday for four months of maintenance, ESKOM said in a statementtoday. While ESKOM battles with the difficult juggling act of maintenance and keeping the grid balanced to avoid a total blackout, its CEO Tshediso Matona is in Washington at the Powering Africa Summit, where he is a speaker following Jacob Zuma’s example and trying to avoid confrontation with the real problems back home! Matona is also there to raise funds for the embattled energy provider and is expected to visit the UK next, the ESKOM media desk informed. Maybe he should follow Cyril Ramaphosa’s lead and offer the whole pile of shards that was once ESKOM to the British utilities?
In the meantime – and back home – his acting CEO, Dan Marokane, explained why ESKOM did not simply begin maintenance on Koeberg’s Unit 1 immediately. “We took a decision not to start the planned Unit 1 outage earlier due to contractual obligations and associated costs,” he said. “As such, the unit will still go out on a scheduled shutdown on Monday 9 February 2015 and is expected to return back to service at the end of May. “Currently Koeberg Unit 2 is operating at full power, sending out 930 MW to the national grid,” Marokane added.
h3. Start-up Tests
ESKOM technicians were in the process of performing start-up tests to bring back to service Unit 1 of the Koeberg power station, which was taken offline yesterday (Sunday) following a technical fault on the generator transformer, ESKOM explained. “The transformer had experienced an earth fault, which has now been addressed.” They said that Unit 1 was expected to be fully operational by the end of this week, which would increase capacity going into the weekend. “At no stage during the incident, was there any threat to the reactor or nuclear safety,” said ESKOM.
h3. Expect Load Shedding from Tuesday
The system is extremely constrained for the rest of the week, ESKOM said in its state of the power system bulletin on Monday. “Any extra load or faults in the system may necessitate the need to go into load shedding.” The graph to the right shows that expected available capacity is less than the demand from Tuesday, which indicates that load shedding is highly likely.
h3. Scheduled Maintenance
The scheduled shutdown of Koeberg Unit 1 is part of ESKOM’s overall maintenance programme for its fleet of power stations. Every 16 to 18 months, each of the two units at Koeberg is shut down for refuelling, inspection and maintenance. The routine shutdowns are scheduled so as to avoid having both units out of service at the same time and to avoid the winter months in each year. During these routine planned outages, one third of the used nuclear fuel is replaced with new fuel. Statutory inspection and maintenance is performed, and modifications, that will ensure that international safety standards continue to be met or that improve the plant performance, are implemented.
Minister of Public Enterprises, Lynne Brown, welcomed the efforts by ESKOM’s technicians to work around the clock to find the fault. “Although Unit 1 is expected to be fully operational by the end of the week, it is important that the grid is stabilised,” she said. “The grid remains constrained and I appeal to South Africans to continue saving electricity by switching off geysers, air conditioners, pool pumps and all non-essential appliances,” said Brown.