* Total of around 500 mln free EU carbon permits allocated so far
* Commission will provide another update on March 17 (Adds detail)
LONDON, March 3 (Reuters) - Nineteen countries, including Germany, Britain and France, have so far handed out a total of around 500 million free European Union carbon permits to industry to cover their 2015 emissions, European Commission data showed on Tuesday.
The Commission said on its website it will publish another update on March 17 on the number of permits allocated.
The increased supply could hit an already oversupplied carbon market and could exert downward pressure on prices which were trading at around 6.80 euros a tonne on Tuesday.
The EU’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) caps the emissions of over 12,000 power plants, factories and airlines, forcing them to surrender one carbon permit for every tonne of carbon dioxide emitted annually by April of the following year.
Industrial firms regulated by scheme, such as steel and cement makers, are entitled to around 840 million free EU carbon permits for this year to help them compete with rivals in other countries which have less strict environmental regulations.
Companies should have received their quota for this year from national governments by Feb. 28.
The table of permits allocated so far is available here: here (Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Greg Mahlich and David Evans)