March 13, 2011 / 2:20 PM / in 7 years

S.Africa's Eskom to shut half of nuclear plant

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s power utility Eskom said on Sunday it would shut one of its two units at its 1,800 MW Koeberg nuclear plant for a month for repairs and refuelling.

<p>Electricity pylons are seen as the sun sets in Soweto outside Johannesburg November 22, 2009. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko</p>

State-owned Eskom has enough generating capacity to keep the lights on in the country for the next two years, but appealed to consumers in Africa’s largest economy to conserve energy.

“Koeberg Unit 2 will shut down for its scheduled refuelling, maintenance,” the utility said in a statement.

The unit will be shut on Monday, March 14, and be re-opened by the second week of May.

Spring, summer and autumn months, are Eskom’s prime maintenance period, given the higher electricity demand, has minimum scheduled shutdowns during the winter months.

The utility said Koeberg Unit 1 was operating at full power.

Eskom supplies the majority of South Africa’s electricity, but has been struggling to meet fast-rising demand and has said supply will remain tight until 2015 when two new power plants come on stream.

South Africa is increasingly looking towards renewable energy sources to help plug a chronic power shortage and decrease its dependence on the coal-fired power stations that provide most of its electricity.

The country expects to have 7,200 MW of electricity supplied by renewable projects over the next two decades under a new energy resource plan currently under development.

South Africa’s power demand is expected to more than double from levels of around 37,000 MW by 2030.

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