Northern Ireland’s Fold Housing Association has committed more than £1 million to install solar PV panels on around 100 of its homes to help combat fuel poverty.

Fold has handed the supply and installation contract to Harvey Group and Solmatix Renewables just days after the former acquired the latter to help cement its push into the renewables sector.

The installations are expected to be completed within this financial year and Fold said the payback period for each installation will be around seven years.

While Northern Ireland does not have a feed-in tariff for domestic solar PV, systems up to 50kW in capacity are eligible for microgeneration renewable obligation certificates (ROC) in order to support deployment.

Earlier this year, Northern Ireland’s enterprise, trade and investment minister, Arlene Foster rejected previous plans to cut the NIROC to 1.6 and extend it to 3ROCs until October 2016, after which it will be reduced to 2ROCs until April 2017.

Eileen Patterson, director of housing at Fold, said the association was proud to be making “such a significant investment in renewable technology.

“We have installed solar panels across a number of general needs housing schemes and in our experience we have found passive systems such as solar panels and increased insulation to be most effective. We look forward to working with both companies as we roll this project out in the coming months,” she said.

Richard Bell, managing director at Solmatix Renewables, said: “Not only does it help us to secure employment within our organisations, but just as importantly the £1.2m installation will generate reliable, sustainable solar electricity.  This means real savings for Fold tenants, and real benefits for our environment.”