Iran has started rolling blackouts, local media reported on Sunday, which officials blamed on heat, drought affecting hydropower generation and surging electricity demand blamed in part on cryptocurrency mining.
Power cuts in the peak summer months are not uncommon in Iran, but a government report this month said precipitation was down 43 percent compared with the country’s long-term average, warning of reduced water supplies for the year.
Tehran and several other cities have been hit by unannounced power cuts that sparked complaints from consumers, disrupted businesses and damaged household appliances, Iran’s state television reported.
Rolling blackouts for the capital, as well as Alborz and Khorasan Razavi provinces were announced by provincial power distribution companies, with neighborhoods losing power for at least two hours until evening.
Tehran had experienced brief unplanned outages on Saturday, Agence France-Presse correspondents said after power cuts had also hit other major cities, such as Shiraz and Isfahan, from Friday, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) and Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA).
The national grid is overburdened from drought as well as “rising temperature and consumption, and a new phenomenon called cryptocurrencies,” ISNA quoted national electricity company director Mohammad Hassan Motevalizadeh as saying.
Iranian officials have regularly blamed “illegal” cryptominers for using vast amounts of electricity through the so-called blockchain process used to generate valuable digital assets like bitcoin.
Electricity company spokesman Mostafa Rajabi Mashhadi on Saturday said that the company cut power to four “overusing” government bodies, while registered cryptomining farms had voluntarily shut down operations to ease the burden.
Tehran’s blackout on Saturday also affected two chess players competing in an Asian championship held online when the chess federation building lost power with no backup.
“Two of Iran’s best lost [due to] a sudden power cut,” IRNA quoted federation chief Mohsen Samizadeh as saying.
The competition’s organizer on the Iranian side, Shadi Paridar, told ISNA that the players “returned to their hotel with tears in their eyes.”
State TV said matches continued on Sunday with backup generators.
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