National Grid ramps up search for UK CO2 storage site

* Company to drill off coast of northern England

* Says major step in development of CCS network

* Project to assess viability of storing CO2 in porous rock

LONDON, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Britain's National Grid Plc

is to drill off the coast of Yorkshire in northern England in an attempt to find a suitable site to store carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, giving a boost to a technology tipped to help the UK meet its climate targets.

"This drilling operation is a major step forward in the development of a long-term, large-scale CCS (carbon capture and storage) cluster of transportation networks and storage facilities in the UK," Jim Ward, National Grid's head of CCS, said on Wednesday.

The UK has a target to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 and the government sees CCS, which collects carbon emissions from power generators and stores them underground, as a key component to achieving this goal.

National Grid and its partner, the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), a joint industry and government body, said the drilling would help assess the viability of storing carbon dioxide in a porous rock formation, rather than in a depleted oil or gas reserve, under the sea.

The project would be complementary to other efforts to find a solution to carbon emissions.

Britain has a 1 billion pound ($1.6 billion) competition to help fund demonstration projects for CCS technologies, which it said has attracted the interest of 16 companies, including National Grid, as well as Centrica Plc and SSE Plc .

The government has not specified which projects have been entered for the competition, but National Grid is working as part of the consortiums for five CCS projects proposed in the UK, according to its website.

Three of these projects, two of which aim to capture emissions at gas-fired power plants and one at a coal power station, are based in Yorkshire.

The winner or winners of the government scheme are expected to be announced by the end of the year. ($1 = 0.6251 British pounds)

(Reporting by Susanna Twidale; Editing by David Holmes)

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