Embattled power utility Eskom has been given a R950 million penalty due to delays in planned maintenance at the Koeberg nuclear power station.

As reported by TimesLive, two independent sources at Eskom said that an adjudication ruling made last week awarded French Firm Framatome R950 million due to Eskom postponing planned work during a maintenance outage that began last year.

Framatome has a contract to replace six steam generators at Koeberg.

The French Firm was awarded a separate R650 million from Eskom last year after the Constitutional Court upheld a cost order from the Supreme Court of Appeal.

“There are now over 100 active contractual disputes between Eskom and Framatome, with a single one of them with a value of approximately R1 billion,” former board member of the National Nuclear Regulator Peter Becker said.

Becker added that the cost of refurbishment at Koeberg is far higher than Eskom is letting on.

Eskom said that the refurbishment cost would total roughly R20 billion, however, Virtual Energy and Power director Clyde Mallinson said that this estimate was done in 2020, with the revised cost likely being between R40 and R70 billion.

Winter warning 

Koeberg is one of South Africa’s most reliable power stations, however, a delay in completing maintenance at Eskom’s only nuclear power station is a worrying sign for winter in South Africa.

Koeberg’s unit 1 produces 920MW and reduces load shedding by roughly one stage, however, a delay in replacing a steam generator is adding to daily power cuts.

As reported by Moneyweb, the return to service of unit 1 of the nuclear power station has a new target date of 13 September, which is roughly three months after it was supposed to be completed.

The 920MW of electricity will thus not be available in Winter when demand is set to increase.

The delay in maintenance also has a knock-on effect, leaving a short period to complete a similar stream generator replacement in unit 2 before Koeberg’s license expires in mid-2024.

Alan Winde, premier of the Western Cape province, said that the delays at Koeberg are worrying.

“We can’t be behind right now,” Winde said. “We’ve got to be on time, on budget.”

Earlier this month, Mallinson said that South Africans will face a cold, dark winter if Eskom could not lift its coal power fleet’s capacity factor (CF) to 50%, which would help fight the higher stages of load shedding in winter.

South Africa is expected to see upwards of stage 6 load shedding during June if Eskom cannot increase its coal power fleet’s capacity factor (CF).

According to Mallison, in February, Eskom’s coal fleet only managed to operate at 40% CF.

If this performance continued in June, Eskom would have to push load shedding to stage 11, a level that does not currently exist.

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