Massive blackouts and smog have hit cities across Iran. It’s a toxic mix as the country, already under economic duress and suffocating U.S. sanctions, simultaneously battles the region’s worst coronavirus outbreak. Blackouts are not new in Iran, where an aging and subsidized electricity sector is plagued by alleged mismanagement. But this time, government officials say that bitcoin mining at cryptocurrency farms — the energy-intensive business of using large collections of computers to verify digital coin transactions — is partly to blame. From a report: Iran’s state-owned electricity firm Tavanir announced Wednesday that it had shut down a large Chinese-Iranian-run cybercurrency center in the southeastern province of Kerman because of its heavy energy consumption. The company reportedly was licensed to operate under a process the government had put in place to regulate the industry. Alongside pointing a finger at legal operations, Iranian officials have specifically singled out illegal cryptocurrency miners as a strain on the electricity grid spurring outages, Mostafa Rajabi Mashhadi, a spokesperson for the electricity industry at Iran’s energy ministry, told the IRNA state-run news agency. On Wednesday, Ali Vaezi, a spokesperson for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, said the government would be investigating cases of unlicensed cryptocurrency farms. But Iranians in the bitcoin industry reject the government’s accusations, saying the industry is being blamed for a broader problem. “The miners have nothing to do with the blackouts,” Ziya Sadr, a cryptocurrency researcher in Tehran, told The Washington Post. “Mining is a very small percentage of the overall electricity capacity in Iran.”
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