The extended unavailability of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station's units 1 and 2 this year due to planned outages, means the electricity supply system in the country may come under additional strain, Eskom cautioned in a statement on Saturday.
Koeberg's unit 2 is set to go offline for about five monhts as from Monday 17 January. Unit 1 will be taken offline after that for about the same amount of time. Eskom says this type of long outages are needed and will be a first of its kind for Koeberg.
Unit 2 is due for a routine refuelling and maintenance outage. Its three steam generators and the reactor pressure vessel head, which houses the nuclear fuel while the station is in operation, will also be replaced.
An outage of Koeberg Unit 1 will take place later this year. The Koeberg units, at 920MW each, are the largest generating units on the African continent, according to Eskom.
"Their safe and reliable operation is a significant contributor to meeting the country's electricity demand. The Koeberg outages are planned at times of the year when the impact on the overall electricity supply is minimised as far as possible," says Riedewaan Bakardien, Eskom's chief nuclear officer. "Nuclear safety is the paramount factor."
Eskom regards Koeberg as an important part of its generating fleet due to its "reliable operation, low primary energy costs, its strategic location in the Western Cape to stabilise the national electricity grid, and the fact that it is a clean source of energy".