Abstract An experimental study is carried out to investigate the performance of a solar Rankine system using supercritical CO 2 as a working fluid. The testing machine of the solar Rankine system consists of an evacuated solar collector, a pressure relief valve, heat exchangers and CO 2 feed pump, etc. The solar energy powered system can provide electricity output as well as heat supply/refrigeration, etc. The system performance is evaluated based on daily, monthly and yearly experiment data. The results obtained show that heat collection efficiency for the CO 2-based solar collector is measured at 65.0–70.0%. The power generation efficiency is found at 8.78–9.45%, which is higher than the value 8.20% of a solar cell. The result presents a potential future for the solar powered CO 2 Rankine system to be used as distributed energy supply system for buildings or others.