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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  05 Sep 2012

POWER SUPPLY: Koeberg To Sweat Some More


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WHEN the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station came into operation in 1984, it had an expected lifespan of 40 years. By 2024 it would have been moth-balled. Now the word is that Eskom may extend the plant’s life up to 60 years.

Johannes Kotze, project director: strategic nuclear projects at Eskom says the licence to operate Koeberg has no specified term and operation is subject to periodic reviews and risk-based assessments. It is accepted, however, that the Koeberg design in conjunction with the initiative contained in the station Life of Plant Plans, currently supports an operational life of 40 to 50 years. By 2014, unit 1 will have been in operation for 30 years, with unit 2 reaching the equivalent operational age by 2015.

Kotze will be one of the guest speakers at this year’s Physical Asset Management Conference presented by Pragma, which takes place from 13 to 15 August 2012. Kotze will be speaking on Koeberg’s Long Term Asset Management project.

The Koeberg Power station is just 25km from Cape Town and is the only nuclear power station in Africa. It boasts the largest turbine generators in the Southern Hemisphere and is the most southerly-situated nuclear power station in the world.

Kotze says the nuclear power station ranks amongst the safest of the world’s top ranking PWR’s of its vintage and is the most reliable Eskom power station.

By 2014, unit 1 will have been in operation for 30 years, with unit 2 reaching the equivalent operational age by 2015. This is typically the point at which nuclear power plant operators purposely evaluate their long-term asset management strategies and, where applicable, either initiate processes for the approval and implementation of justifiable plant life extension initiatives or prepare for decommissioning.

Worldwide, there is an increasing trend amongst nuclear power plant utilities to opt for life extension, rather than decommissioning. There are life extension initiatives currently in progress in the South Korean, Swedish, Soviet, Swiss, US and French utilities,” Kotze says.

In line with these international approaches, Koeberg has commissioned a long term asset management project with the purpose of facilitating the decision on optimum plant life of Koeberg units 1 and 2, while taking into account the merits and demerits of current and future project strategies for major component and system refurbishments,” says Kotze. After an internationally accepted approach, Eskom conducted a feasibility assessment which highlighted the technical challenges that impact the operational lifespan of Koeberg. “The general conclusion is that, when benchmarked against comparable utilities, no prohibitive technical challenges have been identified which would preclude a plant life extension of up to 60 years.”

Kotze adds that the most significant financial hurdle identified is the replacement of the steam generators at the power station. He continues: “In line with international trends, Koeberg is considering using the margins provided through steam generator replacement to optimise the generating capacity of the units by increasing their thermal power.”

Eskom performed an economic assessment on the generators which analysed the impact of life extension on capital requirements, future financial considerations and levelised electricity generation costs. “Based on the analyses, it is apparent that the economic modelling favours plant life extension to 60 years, together with the earlier implementation of the replacement project and concurrent power update,” Kotze concludes.

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