Koeberg Power Station near Melkbos. Photo: Sam Clark

CAPE TOWN - The Eskom’s Koeberg nuclear power station situated in Cape Town has today launched a mobile groundwater desalination plant, which will take care of the station’s water needs.

The Koeberg's desalination plant hopes to decrease the water supply pressure from the City of Cape Town, which is experiencing its worst drought in more than 100 years.

Velaphi Ntuli, Koeberg power station's manager said in a statement, "The desalination plant is part of Koeberg’s three-pronged water management strategy to address the current water shortages in the Western Cape while ensuring that the plant is able to provide safe and sustainable electricity". 

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This strategy includes reducing the power station’s daily water usage, keeping adequate on-site water storage and looking at alternative water supplies. 

"When the City of Cape Town called on the people of the Western Cape to address the water issue, we had to respond with a sustainable solution as a responsible corporate citizen," Ntuli added.

Ntuli further explained that this nuclear power supplier, to this end, it has saved approximately 115,000 kilolitres since June 2017, compared to previous averages. This equates to the City of Cape Town supplying 10.5 kl of water to approximately 11000 houses for a month, according to Ntuli.

Eskom said the desalination solution is quite important to ensure continuity of supply. 

Koeberg is the only nuclear power station in Africa and it has been operating for 33 years. It has an installed capacity of 1 860MW, which provides 50% of the Western Cape’s and approximately 5.6% of South Africa’s energy needs, this is according to Eskom.

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"It is worth noting that Koeberg saves 22 billion litres of fresh water per annum as its condensers are cooled by means of sea water, which is returned to the sea after use," the statement read.

The Western Cape in the near future will be home to another nuclear power plant to be built at Duynefontein near the Koeberg plant.

In October, the Department of Energy granted Eskom permission to build a new nuclear power station. 

Eskom's chief nuclear officer Dave Nicholls welcomed the department's decision and said it marked a milestone in the development of South Africa's nuclear energy capacity.

"We welcome the authorisation by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) on the Final Environmental Impact Report (F-EIR) for the Nuclear-1 Power Station and associated infrastructure, and consider this an important milestone in the development process of South Africa’s nuclear programme," Nicholls said.

Other than Eskom's water saving tactics, companies like Tsogo Sun Holdings have also announced plans to combat the water crisis. Tsogo Sun said it's planning to build a desalination plant to supply its Cape Town hotels with water.

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