Officials from the Iranian National Inspection Organization are investigating the Energy Ministry to find out whether any wrongdoing has contributed to power cuts in recent weeks, the organization’s chief Hassan Darvishian said on Tuesday.

Darvishian said that due to the public’s sensitivity to power outages, the inspectorate placed inspectors at the Energy Ministry to look at technical issues and the government should have anticipated the problem.

The government began issuing warnings about power cuts in April. As the weather warmed up in the second half of May, blackouts in major cities became daily. Officials pointed to an unprecedented increase in consumption due to the use of air cooling systems, drought, and energy-hungry cryptocurrency mining.

Demand is encouraged by energy subsidies that encourage use rather than conservation. Various capacity figures – from 55,000 to 85,000 MW – are cited, but lack of investment, especially in three years of recession and US “maximum pressure”, has prevented upgrades.

According to Ashley-Edison, the specialist British manufacturer, while Iran’s consumption in 2020 reached a record 53,000 MW and “at first glance, the margin between supply and consumption appears to be acceptable”, the 11% loss of power during transmission and the distribution “is of concern”. The ministry recently said consumption would reach 58,000 MW at current peaks, with demand rising to 73,000 MW in five years.

Iran is the largest producer of electricity in the Middle East and the 14th in the world. Ashley-Edison estimates that 80 percent of Iranian production comes from fossil-fueled power plants, 16 percent from hydroelectric plants and 1.3 percent from Iran’s only nuclear power plant at Bushehr. Tehran is in talks with Russia and South Korea on the construction of eight atomic reactors.

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