Cape Town’s Koeberg nuclear power station to get mini-desalination plant

eskom koeberg cape town paul scott flickr

Cape Town’s nuclear power plant Koeberg is turning to desalination as the drought deepens, Eskom reveals.

A column written this week by Koeberg’s power station manager Velaphi Ntuli and published on Engineering News explains that the move is part of Eskom’s “robust risk management process” to safeguard the city’s power supply.

“Koeberg currently uses about 1 300 kilolitres of fresh water per day,” Ntuli writes.

“In light of the current drought situation, Koeberg is driving various water saving initiatives to reduce potable water consumption by at least a third in the short term.”

While the power plant itself is cooled by the Atlantic Ocean, the power plant’s various other functions require fresh water.

While the City of Cape Town is reluctant to adopt desalination technology, Eskom will employ it at Koeberg

Interestingly “groundwater from the aquarium located near to the power station will be desalinated” and used at the station. This in turn will decrease the plant’s dependency on the City of Cape Town’s water supply, decreasing consumption by a suggested “100 megalitres per day”.

Desalination is the process of removing salt and other minerals from ground or sea water, resulting in water suitable for human consumption.

Countries famed for employing the technology includes the likes of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

According to the International Desalination Association, around 300-million people “rely on desalinated water for some or all their daily needs.”

At present, the City of Cape Town’s daily usage threshold for the entire metropolitan area stands around 600-million litres per day — a target it’s not even close to hitting.

Desalination: the future rather than the alternative?

Desalination has been studied as a possible solution to Cape Town’s ever-dire water crisis, but the City doesn’t believe it to be a viable solution at present.

A plant build in Cape Town could cost taxpayers around R16.5-billion to build, with operation costs amounting to R1.2-billion per year thereafter. To put that into perspective, the Cape Town Stadium cost around R4.4-billion to construct.

Ntuli nevertheless has high hopes for Eskom’s initiative.

“If successful, this might lead to a future where seawater desalination forms part of the city’s water supply mix pending approval by all parties concerned,” he concludes.

H/T: Engineering News

Feature image: Paul Scott via Flickr (CC 2.0 BY-SA, resized)

Andy Walker
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