Koeberg nuclear power station Credit: Pipodesign, Philipp P Egli CC BY 3.0) South African power utility Eskom said was on schedule to install six new steam generators at its Koeberg nuclear power plant in 2021. The first is already in transit and expected to arrive in Cape Town later in September, Eskom noted.

The ZAR 4.3 billion ($258 million) contract was originally signed with France’s Areva in 2014. It was later unsuccessfully challenged in court by rival supplier Westinghouse. The steam generators, each weighing around 366 tonnes, are being assembled in China before being shipped to South Africa and transported to the reactor site on flat-bed trucks.

Koeberg nuclear power plant, which comprises two pressurised water reactors, began operation in 1985.

“We are on track and progressing according to plan for installation during the next unit 1 and 2 outages,” said an Eskom spokeswoman.

“Three steam generators have been completely built and the remaining three for Koeberg unit 2 are progressing well, even given the Covid-19 pandemic and consequences on productivity,” she added.

The original generators, which have U-tube piping susceptible to cracking, are heat exchangers used to convert water into steam from heat produced in a nuclear reactor core. The first set of generators is expected to be replaced in February 2021 and the second set in September 2021 during scheduled refuelling maintenance. Each unit will be offline for an estimated four months.

The old steam generators, which are radioactive, will be stored in a temporary site at Koeberg, Eskom said, before being finally disposed of underground “as complete and sealed units” at South Africa’s Vaalputs radioactive waste storage facility in the Northern Cape.

Photo: Koeberg is South Africa's only nuclear power plant (Credit: Pipodesign, Philipp P Egli CC BY 3.0)