CAPE TOWN – The first of six new steam generators is being delivered to Koeberg nuclear power station as part of a major life extension systems upgrade.
This project has been underway for some years and began after Eskom nuclear specialists decided to undertake a system upgrade to ensure that Koeberg would operate optimally for at least another 20 years.
These steam generators are highly complex, designed in France and fabricated in China. They are part of a total upgrade which cost in excess of R5billion.
The project will feed about R500million into the local economy.
Dr Kelvin Kemm, a nuclear physicist, says: “There are three steam generators on each of the two Koeberg reactors. The steam generators take heat from the nuclear reactors and then convert it into high pressure steam which is fed to the turbines to produce electricity.”
The existing steam generators are reaching the end of their natural life cycle, but have been so well cared for by the Koeberg staff that they are considered to be some of the best maintained in the world.
The new steam generators will enable Koeberg to increase its electricity output by about 10 percent.
Kemm says: “Since Koeberg was built nearly 40 years ago; new advanced materials have come into existence and design methods have improved, which meant that higher performance steam generators could be designed and fabricated.”
The Eskom nuclear engineers have been planning this natural plant extension for many years. Kemm states: “In 2010 upgraded steam turbines were installed which could produce an increase in power output of about 10percent, but only after new higher performance steam generators were installed in the system.”
The two Koeberg nuclear reactors will not be altered at all and they are still performing extremely well.
However, Kemm points out: “The reactors were designed to be able to operate at a slightly higher temperature, about 9°C more than now, and with new higher performance steam generators, the Koeberg engineers will be able to increase reactor temperatures to feed more energy into the upgraded turbines via the new steam generators.”
Kemm pointed out that Koeberg produces South Africa’s cheapest electricity and will continue to do so for many years to come. He added that the Eskom nuclear team under Riedewaan Bakardien and Koeberg Power Station manager Velaphi Ntuli should be congratulated on the world-class job which they continue to do so well.