Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  14 Sep 2010

ENGINEERING: Hive Of Activity At Koeberg


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The European power technology group Alstom is beavering away at Unit 1 at Koeberg. Eskom’s spokesperson for matters relating to Koeberg, Carin de Villiers, confirms that Alstom signed an EUR17 million deal in June for the maintenance and repair of Koeberg’s Unit 1’s high and low pressure turbine, as well as associated equipment, such as valves and servomotors.

The 44-day shutdown started on 23 August and work is around the clock - a three-shift operation involving both local and foreign personnel. Eskom will also replace the inside condenser, which is considered a particularly complex process.

Alstom has brought in 110 specialists from France, Croatia, Romania, the UK and the Netherlands. The French multinational has also contracted with between 260 and 280 South Africans, many of whom have been drawn from the ranks of Eskom’s engineering unit, Rotek.

De Villiers says; “We are in the process of putting in modifications to get the Koeberg plant to the same state as the reference plants in France. The modifications and retrofits will improve Koeberg’s safety limits as well as enable the plant to continue operation safely beyond the 40 year original design life,” she says.

Alstom has also signed a EUR1.5 million planning, coordination, logistics and risk analysis contract to ensure seamless delivery against what seems to be a demanding schedule.

Works will range from the retrofitting of the turbine and the delivering of a new generator rotor to replacing the turbine control system and the provision of service such as welding and scaffolding.

Koeberg has been operating since the mid-1980’s, with the 900MW Unit 1 synchronised to the grid on 1984, while the 900MW Unit 2 was synchronised a year later.

It was the very same Unit 2 which in December 2005 failed and triggered rolling blackouts across the Western Cape. Now we understand that Unit 2 will also need to undergo a major retrofit within the next three years.

Questioned on why the date has been brought forward from late 2011 to now, de Villiers simply responds; “Sorry, but I don’t know where (it) has come from. The Westinghouse fuel will be part of the fuel consignments over the next five years. Areva will also be supplying fuel.”

But spare a thought for Westinghouse.

Following the award the company soon afterwards opened a new office in Cape Town “in response to the increasing demand for nuclear energy and related business growth as a result of our relationship with Eskom,” a press release announced.

Westinghouse said it would supply Koeberg with leading edge technology, integrated service and fuel solutions.

Westinghouse Electric is a group company of Toshiba Corporation.

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