Iran has stopped supplying electricity to neighboring Iraq amid a surge in domestic demand that is blamed on a return of hot weather and increased cryptocurrency mining.
“Our country’s need to electricity supplies caused a halt in exports to Iraq,” said Mostafa Rajabi, a spokesman of state electricity company Tavanir, on Monday.
Iran has continued to supply Iraq with stable levels of electricity in recent months despite a shortage seen inside the country.
However, supplies from Iran can only meet a small part of Iraq’s growing need for electricity. The Arab country has an electricity output of nearly 20 gigawatts which is well short of a demand of over 30 gigawatts in peak periods of consumption in hot summer days.
Power plants in Iraq rely on natural gas supplied from Iran for more than a third of their total output. That comes as Iranian Oil Ministry has reduced gas supplies to Iraq since earlier this year because of arrears in payments that have been caused by US sanctions.
Rajabi said that rising demand for electricity has caused a sharp drop in Iran’s electricity exports this summer. He said current exports are estimated at 150 megawatts, down from nearly 2,000 megawatts recorded in August 2020.
The official said electricity supply to Afghanistan had also declined to only 13 megawatts against 100 megawatts reported last week.
Tavanir had warned on Sunday that power cuts in some areas in Iran would be unavoidable this week, adding that hot weather and a renewed surge in illegal crypto mining activities had caused demand to reach a record of 66 gigawatts in peak hours.