Koeberg delays illustrate ineptitude on big infrastructure projects
Eskom has announced that the replacement of three steam generators at Koeberg’s unit 2 will be delayed, maintenance and planned outages of Unit 2 at the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station will be delayed. This unit was shut down for maintenance and the generator replacement in January, but Eskom says it is highly likely it will take longer than the planned five month outage, so the work will be delayed.
With more delays come more risk to security of supply as Koeberg’s licence to operate expires in 2024.
This delay also leaves the life extension process uncertain. This is still waiting on the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) to decide whether or not to extend the Koeberg licence.
Which is more concerning is that Eskom and its subcontractors had ample time to do the necessary preparations. Eskom has been planning to extend Koeberg’s life from as early as 2015 – although this was planned without the required NNR approvals or any public consultation – and the three steam generators had arrived by March 2021 but the installation was delayed until this year. We are again witnessing an eleventh-hour scramble that may compromise the legitimacy and credibility of the ongoing process. The impact of the delay is further exacerbated by a declining level of public confidence in the NNR, which oversees the process.
As the replacement for the six steam generators (for units 1 and 2) is calculated to cost approximately R20bn, OUTA is concerned that a delay will increase that bill even more.
OUTA remains vigilant in this space and will continue to call for transparency and good governance from both Eskom and the NNR.
A soundclip with comment by OUTA Legal Project Manager Brendan Slade is here.