Koeberg's new life builds up a head of steam with arrival of first generator

The first of six new 380-ton steam generators arrived at Koeberg nuclear power station in Cape Town on September 29 2020.
The first of six new 380-ton steam generators arrived at Koeberg nuclear power station in Cape Town on September 29 2020.
Image: Eskom

The arrival of a 380-ton steam generator on Tuesday is the first step towards extending the life of the Koeberg nuclear power station in Cape Town.

The generator, which is the first of six being made for Koeberg's two pressurised water reactors, arrived at Cape Town harbour from Shanghai, China, and was transported 40km to Koeberg on the longest trailer in SA.

When the other two generators for unit 1 have been supplied by French company Areva, they will be installed between February and June next year.

The generators are housed alongside the reactor vessel, which heats water to 320°C while keeping it in a liquid state using a pressuriser.

Once the water enters the generators, it turns to steam which spins turbines capable of  producing about 1,940 megawatts of electricity when both reactors are operating.

“Steam generator replacement is the most intensive and most expensive project a nuclear power station can undertake. Several stations internationally have done so successfully,” Eskom said on Wednesday.

The state-owned power utility said extending Koeberg's lifespan was “the best investment into sustainable and less carbon-intensive electricity generation infrastructure Eskom can buy”.

A 42m trailer, requiring the pulling power of four trucks, was needed for the first steam generator's eight-hour road trip from Cape Town harbour to the Koeberg nuclear power station.
A 42m trailer, requiring the pulling power of four trucks, was needed for the first steam generator's eight-hour road trip from Cape Town harbour to the Koeberg nuclear power station.
Image: Eskom

The three generators for unit 2 will be installed in 2022 as part of a R20bn project to extend Koeberg's life beyond the 40 years anticipated when the plant went into operation in 1984.

Each of the new generators is about 20m long. Transporting the first to Koeberg from the harbour on a 42m trailer required the pulling power of four trucks and took eight hours.

The old radioactive generators will be stored at Koeberg, Eskom said. They are expected to be dismantled for final disposal at Vaalputs in the Northern Cape, which is operated by the National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institute.

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