Africa-Press – South-Africa. A briefing by Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa on Wednesday did little to allay the Western Cape government’s fears regarding delays to refurbishing the Koeberg nuclear power plant.
Ramokgopa briefed the provincial energy council on the national government’s Energy Action Plan to address chronic mass power outages.
The delays to the refurbishments at Koeberg, to extend its lifespan, was at the top of the meeting agenda.
The station is undergoing an extension of life, which involves the replacement of all the steam generators in both unit 1 and unit 2, News24 Business reported this week.
Each unit generates 920MW, which is almost equivalent to a stage of load shedding.
The licence for Koeberg to continue operating expires on 21 July 2024, after which it must close, unless the plant has been successfully refurbished and relicensed.
Unit 1 was expected to be completed by July, with Unit 2 earmarked to go on outage in September. Unit 1’s deadline has already been delayed until September, with concern growing that it could be shifted to October, leaving no safety buffer between the return to service of unit 1 and the shutdown of unit 2.
Premier Alan Winde, who chaired the council, said every day the refurbishment process was delayed brought the country closer to a catastrophic increase in the severity of blackouts, particularly for the Western Cape, which would be hugely detrimental to residents and the economy.
The premier warned:
“I must emphasise to the residents of the Western Cape that our concern is not a nuclear one, but rather an even further constraint on our energy supply. We must understand how Eskom will mitigate this possibility and plan to manage this dual outage at Koeberg. I welcome the opportunity to engage with the minister and Eskom on this further,” he said.
Ramokgopa remarked during the briefing that it was “a major area of concern” and he had written to the Eskom board requesting a comprehensive report.
Ramokgopa told the energy council that mass power outages would result in R725 billion being lost to the South African economy this year.
Earlier this week, he expressed anger about the delays, saying that even after a visit there this past week he was “none the wiser” about when unit 1 would return to service and what was really going on.