BERLIN — The Greens want Germany to ban gas and oil heating and switch to heat pumps — but have been struggling to install such a device in their own party headquarters for years.
The Greens wanted to use the renovation of its headquarters in the heart of Berlin to renew its gas heating system, making it climate-neutral and in line with their plans for German society. But according to a report in Der Spiegel, the party has been trying and failing since the end of 2019 to complete construction work and install a heat pump.
At the time, Michael Kellner, then general secretary of the party and now state secretary in Robert Habeck’s economy ministry, said during a tour: “We’ll rebuild the house first and then the land.”
Things turned out differently, however, as the Green Party’s approval ratings have plummeted to 14 percent from 23 percent last summer — and the heat pump, a blue box with a fan, vegetates in the courtyard of the headquarters.
In an ambitious move, the Greens selected a geothermal heat pump and a wholly new developed ventilation system. To make the pump function at all and distribute heat in the house, a deep hole had to be drilled. That pump type transfers heat from the ground, while cheaper and easier to install air-source heat pumps collect and transfer heat from the air.
As the rooms were to be heated with a ventilation system and not with radiators, a complex system of pipes and cables had to be installed. This is especially challenging in old buildings, as in that of the Greens.
That’s not where the problems stopped. The drilling required a permit, and the approval of Berlin’s authorities took almost two years. Moreover, a special machine and trained personnel were needed. Only recently was it possible to lift a special drilling machine over the roof into the courtyard. Drilling was carried out from May 22 to June 2, 2023, a party spokesperson told Spiegel.
The blue heat pump is finally expected to go into operation toward the end of the third quarter of this year. According to the report, the entire conversion is expected to have cost about €5 million.
When asked by POLITICO on Friday, the Greens’ press office said it could not confirm the Spiegel article. After repeated inquiry, a spokesperson said on Saturday that “the report is incorrect in parts, including the construction time of the geothermal heat pump,” but did not provide further details.