TEHRAN – Head of Thermal Power Plants Holding Company (TPPH) Mohsen Tarztalab has said that Iran plans to install more than 10,000 megawatts of new power capacity by the industrial sector.
The country was hit by a series of power outages this month, which critics blamed much of it on the government’s underperformance in establishing new power plants to keep up with runaway demand.
Heavy industries such as steel and cement bore much of the brunt after being told to cut power consumption to 10 percent of their normal operation, media reports said.
It prompted the Ministry of Mine, Trade and Industry and the industrial sector to put an official request with the Ministry of Energy for investment in thermal power plants, Tarztalab said.
“We received their official request four days ago and today, a permit was issued for the construction of these combined cycle power plants so that the industrial sector, which is the most energy-intensive part of the country, can build power plants for itself,” he said.
Hence, the construction of 10,536 MW of power plants was entrusted to the industrial sector, Tarztalab said, adding it will require 6 billion euros of investment and take three years to build them.
According to Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian, Iran produces 60,000 MW of electricity - 50,000 MW thermal and 10,000 MW hydro – “provided that all dams are full and all thermal power plants operating”.
However, premature heat resulting in the warming of five degrees Celsius in the first month of spring combined with drought led to a sharp drop in output from hydropower plants.
The searing hot and dry summer has seen the mercury reaching highs of more than 50 degrees Celcius in the major city of Ahvaz in southern Iran and consumers cranking up air conditioners.
Moreover, the craze for cryptocurrency mining has put increasing strain on electrical grids. According to Ardakanian, about 320 MW has been allocated to licensed crypto mining, but estimates put the use of electricity by illegal energy-guzzling machines north of 2,000 MW.
Iran has stepped up crackdown on the illegal mining of cryptocurrencies. Last month, Tehran’s police chief said 7,000 computer miners had been seized in an abandoned factory in the west of the capital, in one of the largest hauls.
Cheap state-subsidized power has attracted miners from China and elsewhere to Iran. In crypto mining, powerful computers compete with each other to solve complex mathematical problems. The first miner to solve the problem is rewarded in bitcoin and the transaction is added to the blockchain or digital ledger.
The intensity of electricity consumption began to grow in the last days of June, hitting an all-time record of 66,000 MW, which caused large blackouts across the country.
Officials say household and commercial sectors account for the bulk of the sudden rise in consumption. However, the situation has stabilized in recent days and outages have become rare.