BAKU, Azerbaijan, Jan. 15
The Chinese and the Iranians have jointly invested in bitcoin farms in Iran`s Rafsanjan, the representative of Kerman Province in Iran`s parliament said.
“The Chinese have invested in Rafsanjan city to mine bitcoin,” Iranian MP, Hossein Jalali said, Trend reports citing ILNA.
He went on to say that he does not know much about Chinese electricity consumption and whether their electricity consumption is free or subsidized.
"According to my information, all the steps are legal and with permission,” he added. “They have built huge bitcoin farms."
He noted that the Chinese and Iranians have jointly invested in these projects.
"We have visited these farms with the governor of Kerman Province. Now that we have a shortage of electricity, the government is becoming more sensitive to the issue,” he said.
Amid severe power outages across Iran in recent weeks, a major cryptocurrency mining plant jointly operated by an Iranian-Chinese investment firm in the country’s southeast has been temporarily shut down.
Iran’s state-owned electricity firm Tanavir made the announcement on Wednesday after a viral video showing thousands of bitcoin machines operating at the facility in Rafsanjan city of Kerman province.
According to state media, the bitcoin mining farm in Rafsanjan had alone been using 175 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity from the total 600 MWh allotted to all cryptocurrency factories in the country. This came amid an unprecedented surge in demand for electricity that has led to frequent blackouts in the country in recent weeks. The electricity usage in peak hours reached 41,000 MWh in recent days.
Authorities say consumption of gas in households has increased in winter months, making electricity generation a challenge. Power plants have to use dirty fuel oil, instead of gas, to generate electricity.
While the Iran-China bitcoin farm, authorities claim, has been operating with the requisite legal license, there are thousands of “unauthorized” bitcoin extraction centers across the country.
Rajab Mashhadi, a spokesman for Iran’s electricity industry union, said a total of 1,620 illegal cryptocurrency firms that consumed around 250 MWh of electricity have been inactivated.