EDITORIAL: Koeberg life extension coming down to the wire
There are only eight months before the plant’s licence expires in July
By now we must probably assume that the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) will eventually grant Eskom’s application to extend the operating life of the Koeberg nuclear power station by 20 years. The alternative is too disastrous to imagine.
However, with only eight months to go before the plant’s licence expires in July, it would have been good to have certainty rather than assumptions.
It is not clear exactly how much the life-extension project will cost — Eskom’s early estimate was about R20bn, but billions of rand have already been spent on maintenance, refuelling and refurbishment in preparation for the 20-year extension. This would be an awful waste if the application is not granted.
Koeberg unit 1 has now finally returned to service after the steam generator replacement project took almost a year, instead of the five months Eskom originally said it would take.
Hopefully, Eskom learnt lessons from this that will speed up the steam generator replacements on unit 2.
If the work on unit 2 faces similar delays Eskom must hope its Hail Mary application — to separate the operating licences for unit 1 and unit 2 and delay unit 2’s licence expiration by a year — gets approved by the regulator.
At a time when more uncertainty is the last thing SA needs, Eskom and the NNR are cutting the Koeberg life extension a little too close for comfort.
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