The push by many Iranians to establish the country as a mecca for crypto miners may have unintended environmental consequences.
According to a Bloomberg report, the energy needs of Bitcoin (BTC) and crypto mining in Iran, coupled with the demand for heat during an unusually cold winter, have contributed to a shortage of natural gas, forcing power plants to burn. allegedly “low quality fuel oil” to meet the country’s electricity needs. The result has been “thick layers of toxic smog” in many Iranian cities and blackouts following the closure of some power plants .
Iran already faces an economic burden as US sanctions have isolated the country from foreign financial institutions, dire situation with the global pandemic – around 1.3 million cases in total of COVID-19 – and now a winter with temperatures averaging just above zero at night in Tehran.
Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, Iran’s petroleum minister, has reportedly denied that the country’s power plants resort to the use of inferior fuels. However, major media outlets have commented on the seemingly worsening situation with air pollution in Tehran – according to IQAir, the city’s air quality is considered “unhealthy” with a quality index of Looks 171 at the time of publication.
Last January, Iran’s Ministry of Industry, Mines and Trade announced that it had issued 1,000 licenses for crypto miners following the government’s decision to allow it as an industrial activity approved in July. 2019. Authorities subsequently allowed the nation’s industrial-scale power plants to operate as Bitcoin miners “if they stick to approved tariffs,” have the necessary licenses, and do not use subsidized fuel.
Some Iranian officials have continued to work to make the country a regulatory haven for crypto miners. In May, President Hassan Rouhani tasked officials with drafting plans for a national crypto-mining strategy. The number of mining operations in the country increased significantly in 2020, as authorities granted Turkish company iMiner permission to establish a 6,000 rig facility in Iran’s Semnan province.