EghtesadOnline: Electricity consumption in Iran sets a record on Tuesday by exceeding 67,000 megawatts, spokesman of Iran Power Generation, Distribution and Transmission Company (Tavanir) said.
Power consumption reached 67,012 MW on August 10, breaking the all-time record yet another time this year, IRNA reported Mostafa Rajabi Mashhadi as saying.
While the record set last summer was 58 gigawatts, new highs have been registered this year, reaching unprecedented levels in the history of the country.
With the early rise in temperatures across the country before the start of the hot season this year, power consumption began to increase gradually and last year’s record, which was set in the mid-summer, was registered this year before the start of summer in mid-June.
On June 20, electricity use surpassed 62 GW. At the end of June, it exceeded 64 GW and in less than 10 days, it set another record, reaching 66 GW in early July.
Now after about a month, the all-time high record of power consumption is beaten again.
Industrial, agricultural and commercial units, as well as households, constitute 35%, 18%, 6% and 40% of the total electricity use in Iran respectively. Public places like parks, walkways and bus stations account for only a paltry percentage of consumption.
To help meet rising power demand, 2,000 MW of power have been added to the country’s production capacity since last year and electricity imports from neighboring states, including Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Armenia, have approached 700 megawatts per day, which is more than double the 300 MW imported last year.
Despite all this, power authorities have been repeatedly requesting households and industrial sectors to reduce consumption, especially during peak hours, as power plants can currently generate a maximum of 60,000 MW.
Electricity Use on the Rise
Electricity use is still on the rise and has reached alarming level, despite load shedding and frequent power outages that are aimed at compensating the deficit and bridging the gap between demand and production.
Rolling power cuts started in mid-May as the weather got warmer and the use of cooling systems increased. Temperatures in most of Iran have been higher than 40 degrees centigrade and surpassed 50 degrees in the southern regions.
Estimates show that over 20,000 MW are used daily for cooling systems in the summer months.
According to Rajabi, the current installed power capacity is 85.5 GW. However, a lot less is produced due to wastage, technical problems and restrictions, as power plants are usually not allowed to operate at full capacity.
“We kindly ask people to reduce their consumption by not using appliances with high electricity consumption during peak hours, especially from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. People’s cooperation is very effective, and certainly if they continue reducing consumption, we can spend the next few days without blackouts,” he added.
Hydroelectric Power Down, Crypto Mining Up
The main reason behind the outages is unusually low rainfall that has impacted hydroelectricity production. Precipitation is down about 60% in the current water year (started September 2020) compared to the country’s 50-year average.
“As a result, only 4,000 MW are generated by the hydroelectric power plants this year compared to last year’s 10,000 MW,” Rajabi added.
Hydroelectric plants have a maximum production capacity of 12,000 MW, but they produce less power because dams are usually not full.
Production from hydroelectric units is designed as per projected water conditions. The rise or fall in output depends directly on water levels in dams.
Cryptocurrency mining is also a key factor in boosting electricity demand this year. Vast amounts of electricity are used through the so-called blockchain process to generate valuable digital assets like bitcoin.
“Over 210,000 illegal mining rigs have been confiscated in the country in the past year,” the official added.
According to Iranian government estimates, illegal mining operations burn around 2,000 MW per day.
Power Export to Iraq Suspended
Rajabi also announced that power export to Iraq has been halted to help stabilize power supply inside the country.
Regarding the issue, Iraq’s Electricity Minister Adil Kareem said on Tuesday Iran has fully suspended electricity exports to Iraq due to water scarcity.
Iraq heavily relies on Iran in the energy field, as it imports a third of its gas and electricity needs, due to its crumbling infrastructure, which makes it unable to meet the needs of its population of 40 million people.
The two neighbors are also struggling with delayed payments — estimated around $6 billion — which Iraq cannot release in dollars due to the sanctions imposed by Washington on Tehran.
Iran has also reduced power export to its eastern neighbor Afghanistan. “While 100 MW of electricity were exported to Afghanistan last week, it fell to 13 MW this week,” Rajabi said.
“Last Iranian year [March 2020-21], about 2,000 MW of electricity were exported, but this year, due to local needs, the export volume dropped to 150 MW.”