Programme Description

The Solar Heating and Cooling Programme was established in 1977, one of the first programmes of the International Energy Agency. The Programme's work is unique in that it is accomplished through the international collaborative effort of experts from country members, sponsor members and the European Union.

The benefits of this approach are:

  • accelerates the pace of technology development,
  • promotes standardization,
  • enhances national R&D programmes,
  • permits national specialization, and
  • saves time and money.

The Programme is headed by an Executive Committee composed of one representative from each Member country and Sponsor organization, while the management of the individual projects is the responsibility of project managers (Operating Agents) who are selected by the Executive Committee.

The Programme's work is enhanced through collaboration with other IEA Programmes (Energy Conservation in Buildings and Community Systems Programme, Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme, and SolarPACES Programme) and solar trade associations in Europe, North America, and Australia.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) was established in 1974 as an autonomous agency within the framework of the Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to carry out a comprehensive program of energy cooperation among its 25 member countries and the Commission of the European Communities.

An important part of the Agency's program involves collaboration in the research, development and demonstration of new energy technologies to reduce excessive reliance on imported oil, increase long-term energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The IEA SHC's Research & Development activities are headed by the Committee on Energy Research and Technology (CERT) and supported by a small Secretariat staff, headquartered in Paris. In addition, three Working Parties are charged with monitoring the various collaborative energy agreements, identifying new areas for cooperation and advising the CERT on policy matters.


By 2050 a worldwide capacity of 5kWth per capita of solar thermal energy systems installed and significant reductions in energy consumption achieved by using passive solar and daylighting: thus solar thermal energy meeting 50% of low temperature heating and cooling demand (heat up to 250°C).


To enhance collective knowledge and application of solar heating and cooling through international collaboration in order to fulfill the vision.

The Power of Collaboration

The collaborative work of the SHC Programme spans nearly three decades. Over these years, the
investments made in this international partnership have generated valuable results and products beyond what any one country could do on their own.

To support its work, the SHC Programme also is collaborating with other key players in the field, including the solar industry associations of Australia, Europe and North America. Together they are working to increase the awareness of national and international government bodies and policy makers and to encourage industry to use new solar thermal products and services. By 2025, the SHC Programme and affiliated associations envision solar thermal technologies providing 10-15% of the total energy demand in the OECD countries. For Europe, the goal is even more optimistic with the Joint Declaration for a European Directive to Promote Renewable Heating and Cooling calling for 25% of the EU heating and cooling to be supplied by renewables in 2020.

Passive Solar Home - Fort Collins, CO, USAPassive Solar Home - Fort Collins, CO, USA
Photo by RLMartin