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Problems at Eskom put strain on electricity supply

31 July 2008

Following a fault with the hydrogen cooling system in the Unit 2 generator at Koeberg, South African electricity supply company, Eskom has initiated a controlled shutdown of the unit. The nuclear reactor side of the unit has not been affected. Due to stringent safety requirements of the shutting down procedure, repairs and restarting procedure will take about three weeks to complete.

Problems at Eskom put strain on South African electricity supply
Problems at Eskom put strain on South African electricity supply

Specialists from Alstom, the original equipment manufacturer, which recently undertook work on the generator, are already on site to assist with the inspection, diagnosis of the problem and the repair work that will be required.

Eskom also experienced technical failures on generating units at Majuba Power Station with a 669 MW generating capacity and Duvha Power Station, which has 585 MW generating capacity. At Majuba a submerged scraper conveyor which removes ash from the bottom of the boiler jammed. The unit at Duvha had a boiler tube leak and is expected back on stream by the weekend. Whilst these incidents increased the risk of supply shortages, adequate reserves have enabled power supply to be sustained nationally over this period.

These recent events show that any loss of generating capacity places strain on the national grid. This is due to the underlying problem facing South African electricity supply - namely the inadequate reserve margin between available generation and demand, and this will continue until the benefits of the expansion programme become available or the demand for electricity is reduced throughout the country.

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