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