Eskom says ready to build nuclear power station

JOHANNESBURG - South African state-owned power utility Eskom Holdings said last week it was ready to build and commission a demonstration unit of its proposed second nuclear power station, subject to statutory approvals.

Eskom chief executive officer Thulani Gcabashe said the power giant was in the process of obtaining a nuclear power licence and a record of the decision on the environmental impact assessment, to proceed with the next phase of the country's premier nuclear project.
South Africa started evaluating the pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR) project in 1993 as part of a programme to export pocket power stations to the world. Its only existing nuclear power station is at Koeberg, near Cape Town.

"We view the PBMR demonstration project as a strategic national demonstration project with the potential to bring major macro economic, social and strategic benefits for South Africa as a whole," said Gcabashe.

The PBMR is a design for a new generation mini nuclear reactor with a capacity of 110 megawatts against the 1,000 or so megawatt capacity of most modern nuclear power stations, and could give Eskom more flexibility in meeting fluctuations in electricity demand.

In PBMR helium is used as a coolant and the energy transfer medium is used in a closed gas turbine and generator system.

Gcabashe said Eskom was committed to buying the demonstration PBMR unit as well as subsequent PBMR units, subject to statutory approvals being obtained, and certain conditions, including cost and performance criteria, being met.

Eskom is one of the world's biggest power utilities.

The first phase of the project entailed a detailed feasibility study and the development of a business plan, but also included the demonstration of some key concepts - the start-up of a test rig of the PBMR power conversion system.

The test rig, or micro turbine model, represents the first closed-cycle, multi-shaft gas turbine in the world.

Zdroj: Reuters

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