Royal Academy of Engineering appoint Star Refrigeration Director as visiting Professor at Edinburgh Napier University

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Industrial water source heat pump expert, Dave Pearson, has been honoured with a 3 year visiting tenure to help educate engineering degree students on renewable heat via heat pumps, in an initiative geared towards industry/academia engagement to achieve societal decarbonisation.

Dave Pearson with Queens Quay Heat Pumps

''As we move towards heat decarbonisation, we must prepare the next generation of engineers to create energy infrastructure designed to shift the sector in the right direction quickly enough to achieve net zero''

Star Refrigeration’s Group Sustainable Development Director, Dave Pearson, has accepted a visiting professorship at Edinburgh Napier University’s School of Computing, Engineering and The Built Environment commencing with immediate effect, as part of a scheme designed to advance student understanding of the potential applications of renewable heat using heat pumps.

Pearson’s tenure follows Star Refrigeration’s longstanding support of the university’s engineering undergraduate programme alongside a number of activities with the university over several years, including a series of guest lectures on industrial heat pumps for district heating and industrial processes.

The three-year professorship awarded by The Royal Academy of Engineering will involve looking at heat pump types and their application, as well as the factors affecting adoption, and will examine future development work to assess how heat pump technology can be improved.

Dave Pearson said, “I am honoured to be the recipient of the Visiting Professorship at Edinburgh Napier University. As we move towards heat decarbonisation, we must prepare the next generation of engineers to create energy infrastructure designed to shift the sector in the right direction quickly enough to achieve net zero”

Pearson has partnered with multiple industry, government and not for profit organisations for over a decade to stress the pivotal role that industrial heat pumps have to play in tackling climate change, inequality and rising energy costs.

Academic Dr Zuansi Cai, an environmental modeller and associate professor at Edinburgh Napier University, is responsible for organising and championing the initiative after securing funding from The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Industrial Fellowship scheme for 2021/2022.

The programme is designed to draw on the experience of Visiting Professors with relevant industry backgrounds, to strengthen external sector partnerships, support sustainability efforts and enhance the employability and skills of UK engineering degree students. Pearson’s primary mission will be to equip students to harness the power of renewable technology to deliver low-carbon, affordable heat to industry and entire communities and help meet the government’s decarbonisation goals.

Dr Zuansi Cai said, “Education must be closely intertwined with the engineering process along every stage, from innovation through to design and deployment. This scheme is important as engineering should not simply have a theoretical focus – it needs practical application and awareness of current social, environmental and regulatory issues to be of most value.”

As part of the Visiting Professorship programme, BEng Energy and Environmental Engineering students will visit a large scale working water source heat pump for district heating designed by Star’s engineering team and take part in a class project evaluating the usage of heat pumps in the community.

Pearson has extensive experience in the sector, having previously worked on river-source heat pump projects around the world, many of which have received wide industry acclaim for their positive impact on sustainability. Recently, two of Star’s district heating heat pump clients have been awarded ‘Heat Pump City of the Year’ consecutively in 2021 and 2022 by the European Heat Pump Association.

One of the award-winning projects involved the implementation of an innovative 5.2 MW water source heat pump system using ambient energy within the River Clyde to provide low-carbon, combustion free heat to homes, offices and businesses in Queens Quay, Clydebank, while another equipped Bristol City with England’s largest water source heat pump.

For almost 15 years, Pearson’s work has been largely focused on the development of industrial scale heat pumps for district heating and industrial business processes. He is a passionate advocate of the technology and regularly advises governments and businesses on the strategic and vital role heat pumps play in delivering a low-carbon economy. He is Chair of the Centre for Education Engineering and Development, a knowledge sharing collective between business and academia with over 160 members in Scotland and member of the Scottish Government’s Energy Advisory Board, Co-Chaired by First Minster Nicola Sturgeon and Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde.

For more information on Star Refrigeration’s water source heat pumps visit
For more information on Edinburgh Napier University visit

About Star Refrigeration
A world pioneer in the use of natural refrigerants since its inception in 1970, Glasgow based Star Refrigeration are the largest industrial refrigeration contractor in the UK with a turnover of over £50 million per year. Star employs just under 450 people across the country and serves over 400 customers nationwide. The company delivers services to the world’s leading organisations in over 50 countries through a diverse number of sister companies ranging from renewables, consultancy, education, design through to commissioning and maintenance of large scale heating and refrigeration solutions.

The company’s achievements include the design and installation of:

  • a 5.2MW district heat pump in Clydebank which provides low carbon heating and hot water for buildings at Queens Quay. The project is the largest of its kind in the UK and was awarded ‘Heat Pump City of the Year 2021' by the European Heat Pump Association
  • a 3MW water source heat pump at Castle Park Energy Centre in Bristol. The heat pump takes water from the nearby floating harbour and uses it to generate heat and hot water for local businesses and residents. The heat network is supplying over 1000 properties with low-carbon heat and continues to expand to new areas across the city. The project also received ‘European Heat Pump City of the Year 2022’ status.
  • a 15MW district heat pump in Drammen, Norway. The plant used the freezing waters of the North Sea as a renewable source, with zero global warming impact, to provide heating and hot water for the 66,000 people in Drammen's homes and businesses. The project received many accolades including the EEA’s prestigious Rittinger Award.

Over the years, the company have received several awards in acknowledgement of their sustainable and employee-friendly practices, innovative technology and dedicated engineering experts. In the last year alone, the company was recognised with the ‘Net Zero Achievement’ (Glasgow Business Awards, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce) and ‘European Heat Pump City of the Year’ among others.

Star Refrigeration promotes youth employment through its apprenticeship scheme and has been awarded Platinum and Gold accreditation against the Investors in People (IIP) and the Investors in Young People Standard respectively.

The Star Refrigeration group of companies include Star Renewable Energy, Star Data Solutions, Star Technical Solutions, Star Mechanical Solutions, Star Learning Solutions, StarFrost and Azane.

For further information, please contact;
David Pearson,
Director of Star Renewable Energy
Tel: +44 141 638 7916 ; + 44 797 660 7746

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