Iran blames bitcoin mining for surge in electricity consumption

Iran has blamed a surge in activities related to mining of digital currencies like bitcoin for up to seven percent increase in the country’s monthly electricity consumption.

A spokesman of Iran’s Ministry of Energy said on Monday that the country’s power grid had become unstable as a result of increased mining of cryptocurrencies.

Mostafa Rajabi Mashhadi told IRIB News that electricity consumption in Iran had increased by seven percent in the monthly period ending on June 21, 2019, saying it was an unusual surge compared to the similar periods in previous years.

“… a bulk of that unusual increase is because of the activity of bitcoin miners,” said Rajabi, adding that the amount of increased electricity consumption in peak hours in Iran  between April and June was more than the power consumed in three out of 31 provinces in those hours.

He said that the power needed for mining each bitcoin, currently worth more than $10,000, would be enough to supply 24 residential units throughout one year.

The official said the government had yet to approve proposals by the Ministry of Energy for pricing the power consumed by the cryptocurrency miners.

File photo shows circuits for transmission of high voltage electricity in Iran.

Rajabi said until the prices are approved and implemented, the government would crack down on illegal consumption of energy for bitcoin mining.

“… bitcoin miners will be identified and their electricity will be cut,” said Rajabi, adding that using the network for mining cyrptocurrency “is making the grid unstable and causing problem for other users.”

A report by Iran’s Mehr news agency last week showed that bitcoin miners were using power in buildings and properties that enjoy a lower price for electricity, including factories, greenhouses, government offices and mosques.

The report said machines for mining bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were being trafficked to Iran and sold to the miners with a price tag of $300.

Unofficial estimates show that bitcoin mining, an industry currently worth $300 billion, used an exorbitant amount of 30 terrawatt hours of electricity in 2017.

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