South African nuclear power plant explodes its power generation capacity


The Koeberg nuclear power plant is down! This is a dramatic and completely false statement.

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

Yesterday Africa’s only nuclear power plant, Koeberg, announced that it had one unit out of service, not the whole plant. The unit is out of service due to damage to the seawater circulation water pump.

It is only one unit, but it is equivalent to about 930 MW lost, which puts additional pressure on the country’s generation fleet. In addition to this news, Eskom estimates that it will take several days (I have heard that four days have been announced) to complete the repair work and return the unit to service.

This situation is inopportune because the South African electricity company, which has the monopoly on production, is struggling to provide enough capacity to keep the lights on.

It’s a situation that has caused South Africans to raise concerns and ask questions on social media, including:

  • Is this another Fukushima?
  • What is the root cause?
  • How long will it take exactly to repair?
  • 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 because Koeberg, like all nuclear power plants, is maintained and operated under strict international regulations (not to be confused with guidelines).

Depending on what happened – Eskom will eventually issue a statement after its investigation – the spare parts are likely to be in a central store, or will have to be made in South Africa, or at worst imported from overseas.

It is this continued instability in the country’s power generation market that could eventually completely tarnish the outlook for the power generation market on the continent.

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

After the webinar, the conversation will continue at African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa conference and exhibition from May 12 to 14 in Cape Town.

To get a head start on the subject, subscribe to the free live webinar on March 24 as we challenge the experts to answer what stakeholders can reasonably expect from the production market.

Until next week.

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