Recently, solid desiccant air conditioning system has been proposed as an alternative to the conventional vapor compression refrigeration air conditioning systems for efficient control over humidity of conditioned air especially in hot and humid areas. The solid desiccant cooling can be more favorable over the traditional vapor compression refrigeration air conditioners, because it assures more accessible, economical and cleaner air conditioning. It is still more important when it is powered by free energy sources like solar energy and waste heat with temperatures of between 60°C and 80°C. In addition, it can significantly reduce the operating cost as well as save energy. In the present paper, principle of solid desiccant cooling system is recalled and its technological applications and advancements are discussed. Through a rigorous literature review, different configurations of desiccant cooling cycles, conventional and hybrid desiccant cooling cycles, different types of mathematical models of rotary desiccant dehumidifier, performance evaluation of desiccant cooling system, technological improvement and the advantage it can offer in terms of energy and cost savings are highlighted. This paper also gives a detailed account of the general features and performance of the solid desiccant cooling system when it is powered by solar energy or industrial waste heat for regenerating the desiccant. This review is useful for making opportunities to further research of solid desiccant cooling system and its feasibility which is becoming common in the coming days. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.