Norway's Statkraft idles two gas-fired plants in Germany
* Statkraft stops production at Knapsack, Herdecke plants
* German power prices fall 20 percent in H1 2013
OSLO Aug 15 (Reuters) - Norwegian utility Statkraft said on Thursday it had idled two gas-fired power plants in Germany that were incurring losses, after German utilities also announced similar closures this week.
E.ON and RWE said they would idle or shut thousands of megawatts of conventional gas and coal power capacity due to falling wholesale electricity prices and a surge in subsidized renewable power.
"Short-term power prices have continued to fall (in Germany), worsening the margin between power and gas prices," Yngve Froeshaug, Statkraft's vice-president for investor relations, told a conference call.
"Due to this, our gas power plants in Knapsack and Herdecke for the time being are out of production - that is in the wet reserve," he added.
"Wet reserve" means the plants could be restarted in a relatively short time in case market conditions change, he said.
Both plants were commissioned in 2007 and have a combined installed capacity of 1,200 MW. Statkraft co-owns Herdecke plant with Mark-E.
Statkraft shut its older, less efficient 510 MW Robert Frank gas-fired power plant near Dusseldorf earlier this year and a 450 MW power plant in Emden last year, just three years after taking them over as a part of asset swap with E.ON.
The state-owned company took a 2 billion Norwegian crown ($340 million) impairment charge on its German gas power plants in 2012.
"It's hard to comment on what will happen in the future, but looking at the total gas portfolio in our balance sheet, it's a fairly small part," Statkraft Chief Financial Officer Jens Bjoern Staff told the conference call, when asked about further impairements on the German assets.
Out of its total installed generating capacity of over 17,000 MW, gas-fired assets including the mothballed units account for just over 2,000 MW.
While wholesale prices in Germany slid by 20 percent during the first half of this year, prices in Statkraft's core Nordic market rose by over 20 percent. ($1 = 5.8827 Norwegian krones) (Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; editing by Jane Baird)
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