Authorities in Iran have seized roughly 1,000 Bitcoin mining machines from two former factories, according to state TV reports.
The action was taken following a spike in electricity consumption.
Demand for power rose by 7% in June and cryptocurrency mining was thought to be the main cause, an energy ministry spokesman told local state-run media.
One researcher said Bitcoin was gaining more and more attention in Iran as a potential means of storing wealth.
“Two of these bitcoin farms have been identified, with a consumption of one megawatt,” Arash Navab, an electricity official, told state television.
Mining cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin involves connecting computers – usually specialized “mining machines” – to the currency network via the internet.
By providing computing power for validating transactions on that network, mining machine owners are rewarded with newly generated coins, making it a potentially lucrative exercise – especially when done on a large scale.
Bitcoin mining has reportedly sprung up in a variety of locations in Iran.
“Everyone’s talking about Bitcoin and how to get it,” said Mahsa Alimardani, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, who grew up in Iran.
“Bitcoin and [other cryptocurrencies] are slowly coming up as the third alternative,” she said.