(Reuters) - The Netherlands has begun distributing this year's quota of free carbon permits to industry, the Dutch Emissions Authority (NEA) said on Thursday.
The allocation of EU Allowances (EUAs), will add supply to a market already awash with permits and could put more pressure on carbon prices, which are now below 7.50 euros a ton.
A total of 46 million permits will be given to 381 Dutch companies over Feb. 26-27, the NEA website said on its website.
Industrial manufacturers regulated by the EU's Emissions Trading System (ETS), such as steel and cement producers, get free carbon allowances each year to help them compete with rivals in other countries that have looser environmental regulations.
Firms traditionally receive their annual allocation by the end of February.
The EU ETS caps the emissions of over 12,000 power plants, factories and airlines, forcing them to surrender one carbon permit for every ton of CO2 emitted annually by April of the following year.
(Reporting By Susanna Twidale, editing by David Evans)