Upgrading South Africa’s nuclear reactors to secure a carbon-neutral energy supply

20 Dec 2021

South Africa decided in 2019 to extend the operational duration of its Koeberg nuclear power plant by 20 years. Our engineers are supporting the operator in replacing crucial components that will ensure the safety of the two reactors that will generate 5% of the country’s electricity for the next two decades.  

Since 2015, our nuclear experts have provided Owner’s Engineering support services for the replacement of the steam generators on both units of the Koeberg nuclear power plant. The operator, Eskom, has just renewed Tractebel’s contract for an additional two years to help them complete the project, which shows how valued our expertise is by the client. The project will enhance the safety of the Koeberg plant and will pave the way for the extension of its operational duration for two decades. The extension was decided by the South African government in 2019, and is awaiting final approval by the nuclear safety regulator. 

Successful licensing support 
Our services include independent reviews, supplier/manufacturing oversight, technical risk, and interface management. Our engineers also provided support to prepare the safety case that had to be submitted to the South African National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) to perform the upgrade. 

A fully integrated team 
For over five years, our engineers have been fully integrated into the Eskom engineering team responsible for the successful completion of the project. Our engineers’ tasks include activities related to the manufacturing and delivery of the steam generators (SG). They were sent to China to oversee the work of the manufacturer and to make sure the SGs comply with high quality standards. The three SGs for the first unit have been delivered on site, and the manufacturing of the those for the second unit should be finalized by the end of 2022. Our experts will continue to provide local and back-office support to the Eskom project team when the SGs are replaced in 2022 and later in 2023. 

South Africa’s nuclear policy 
The South African government is considering building 2,5 GW of new nuclear capacity by 2030. The country is confronted with a two-fold challenge: security of supply and climate change. Power shortages are frequent, and the country is the world’s 14th largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs) due to a heavy reliance on coal. To move away from fossil fuels, nuclear power is considered as one of the options to decarbonize while securing electricity supply. 

Koeberg nuclear power plant, South Africa


Our engineers are proud to be fully integrated into the Eskom team responsible for the steam generators replacement project. We have been working closely with the operator for over five years, dedicating over 100,000 engineering hours to the project. It is a technically challenging project that requires high-level engineering skills, as it consists of removing and replacing the six 20-meter high4-meter wide steam generators in the containment buildings. The nuclear know-how of our engineers is highly appreciated by the operator, which is why our contract has been extended for two years. Our expertise is recognized in South Africa, and we expect other contracts to follow as the country plans to build new nuclear capacity to secure energy supply and reduce its greenhouse emissions.”

- Tanguy Germeau, Project Manager - Nuclear - Plant Operation Support 




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