Kosovo has banned the mining of cryptocurrencies to curb electricity use as it grapples with an energy crisis caused by soaring global prices. The government says security services will identify and clamp down on sources of cryptocurrency mining. The mining is energy intensive and involves verifying digital transactions to get cryptocurrencies as a reward.

While all of Europe faces sharp price rises, Kosovo is enforcing rolling blackouts amid an electricity shortage. The Balkan state’s largest coal-fired power plant was shut down last month over a technical issue, forcing the government to import electricity at high prices.

A 60-day state of emergency, declared in December, gave the government powers to allocate more money for energy imports and impose stricter restrictions on power usage. The blackouts have sparked protests and calls for the resignation of Economy Minister Artane Rizvanolli.

Energy prices are skyrocketing across Europe for various reasons, including low supplies from Russia and high demand for natural gas as economies recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. The spike has been fuelled by geopolitical tensions with Russia, which supplies one third of Europe’s gas. Russia has rejected European accusations that it has limited gas deliveries while tensions are raised over the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

As the energy crisis bites, Kosovo has been hit harder than others. Last month authorities said Kosovo was importing 40% of its consumed energy. On Tuesday, Ms Rizvanolli said the government had decided to ban so-called crypto mining to mitigate the effects of the global energy crisis.