Feature Story


The Solar Energy Centre (SEC) was established in 1982 located at Gwalpahari and at the 19th milestone of the Gurgaon-Faridabad road in Haryana state of northern India. It is a dedicated unit of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India and serves as an effective interface between the Government and institutions, industry & user organizations for development, promotion and widespread utilization of solar energy technologies and to promote its applications through product development. It is one of the leading test centres for testing of solar thermal devices.

Photo 1: Solar Energy Centre Guest House, Courtesy: Space Design Consultants

The campus is set on a sloping site spread over 200 acres of area and the rich biodiversity of the campus adds to the beauty of SEC. The building design of SEC alone is a demonstration of how to use solar energy effectively. The buildings house a number of laboratories and workplaces, a library, a workshop area, a cafeteria, a small guest house, conference hall and seminar hall. It possesses an indoor/outdoor testing facility for solar collectors, including a large sun simulator. The climate is hot and dry which makes it an ideal place for undertaking testing of solar energy systems.

The broad functions of the Centre are as follows:
Research and development

  • Cooperation with institutions and industry

Technology evaluation, testing and standardization
  • Evaluation of Technical, Environmental, and Economic performance
  • National Referral Test Facility
  • Developmental Testing
  • Coordination with Regional Test Centers (RTCs) and Standards Organizations

Human Resource Development
  • Visitors’ Programme
  • Training, workshops, symposia and seminars

Advisory and consultancy services
International Cooperation

SEC is equipped with solar thermal facilities for the evaluation of solar water heating systems, solar cookers and other solar thermal devices and has indoor test facility for solar collectors with a large area sun simulator. It also has the facilities for the development and updation of standards of solar thermal systems and components as per Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). Expertise is now also available for assessing feasibility of solar thermal power generation at any specified location including its conceptual design.

SEC has also maintained a 50 kW prototype parabolic trough collector to serve as an educational R&D and training facility. Three units of stirling engines have been installed in the campus which convert solar energy directly into grid quality Alternating Current. The electricity produced during the sunshine hours is being utilized in the Technical Block.

A first-of-a kind in the world of 100 kW technology demonstration project solar air conditioning system was recently set up at the centre. It has integrated a triple effect chiller and solar parabolic concentrators (collectors), both indigenously developed by an leading Indian manufacturer of cooling systems. While conventional solar systems take up a large area for limited cooling output, this project through in-house R&D has achieved a significant space reduction of nearly 30 per cent and a 20 per cent increase in cooling efficiency. This has brought down cost and moved the project closer to commercialisation.

Photo 2: Sun Simulator at SEC, courtesy: SEC

SEC has been working jointly on a number of projects with National Institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technologies (IIT’s), the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, The Energy & Resources Institute, etc. It is also collaborating with reputed international institutions such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL) of USA in the photovoltaic area; University of Stuttgart, Germany in the area of solar thermal testing; and the Inter-solar Centre of Moscow in the area of solar energy.

The R&D projects related to solar thermal carried out so far are:
  • Design, development and testing of low temperature solar desalination system (TERI)
  • Performance monitoring of SEC green house (TERI)
  • Solar, optical as well as thermal modeling and measurement of energy flow at different nodal points of 50 KW solar power plant at SEC (IIT, Delhi)
  • Establishment of computer software for detailed design and specifications of solar water heating systems in India (IIT, Delhi )
  • Thermal performance of flat plate collector "Evaluation and Updation of Indian Standards" (IIT, Delhi)
  • Development of a transient test procedure for characterizing solar flat plate collectors (IIT Bombay)
  • Development of test standards for thermal performance of solar cookers (IIT, Delhi)
  • Status report on renewable energy operated desalination system (TERI, Delhi)
  • Application of Finite-time thermodynamic and second law assessment of solar thermal power generation (IIT, Delhi)
  • Establishment of spectral response measurement system (IACS, Calcutta)
  • Design and cost optimisation techniques for solar hybrid absorption refrigeration plants using second law analysis & exergo economics (IIT, Delhi)
  • Round-robin testing of flat plate solar collectors and box type solar cookers in India. (IIT, Delhi)

SEC is constantly working towards development of innovative technologies and invites individual professionals working in solar energy or institutions having an interest in similar activities to build-up a mutually beneficial relationship through joint projects which could exploit each others strengths

More details at: http://www.mnre.gov.in/sec/sec-functions.htm

Secretary, MNRE Mr.Deepak Gupta launching InSolTherm Times

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