The South African utility Eskom is hoping to start building its second nuclear power station next year, a small modular gas cooled unit, as part of a programme to export nuclear power stations, Reuters reports.

According to a company spokesman, the board has already taken a preliminary decision to build a 100 MWe pilot plant. Work is expected to start on the new plant in the second half of 1999, with completion due in 2003.

The utility wants to demonstrate its ability to build the small, modular reactor with an eye on the export market. The unit is based on a German-developed pebble bed modular reactor technology. South Africa’s only existing nuclear plant, at Koeberg, near Cape Town employs a pressurized water reactor (PWR). Eskom claims that it will be able to build the small high temperature gas-cooled reactors in a factory in South Africa and assemble them anywhere in the world within two years. It says that interest has already been expressed in Japan, China and even in the UK.