Koeberg closes for maintenance, Eskom warns of tight supply

South African parastatal Eskom has warned of tight supply after it closed Unit 1 of the Koeberg nuclear power station for seven weeks for a scheduled refuelling, inspection and maintenance outage.

"The system is expected to be particularly tight for the next two weeks until two coal-fired generators return to service from maintenance, alleviating the constraint," Eskom warned in a statement.

Koeberg Unit 1 is expected to return to service in the fourth week of December 2013.

Unit 2 at Koeberg continues to operate at full power.

"Each of the two units at Koeberg is shut down for refuelling, inspection and maintenance approximately every 16-18 months," Eskom said. "These routine shutdowns are scheduled so as to avoid having both units out of service at the same time and to avoid the winter months in each year.

"During these routine planned outages, one third of the used nuclear fuel is replaced with new fuel, statutory inspections and maintenance are performed, and modifications, that will ensure that international safety standards continue to be met or that improve the plant performance, are implemented."

Eskom said the scheduled shutdown of Koeberg Unit 1 was not expected to result in a shortage of supply to the Western Cape or the rest of the country and that several other power station units were also currently in various stages of maintenance, placing further strain on the grid.

"The power system remains tight and balancing demand and supply is a daily challenge," the utility added. "We need the partnership of all South Africans to keep the lights on. We urge all customers to use electricity sparingly and wisely and to switch off, particularly over the evening peak."

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