The Catax team recently helped a solar energy specialist secure $40,000 in government tax credits after developing a portable solar panel that can be used in remote and harsh environments.
SEI Logistics — based in Merritt, British Columbia — has been operating in the renewable energy sector since 2018.
We wanted to share their journey of claiming tax incentives and shout about the brilliant work they have been doing.
One of the company’s key objectives was to ensure that solar panels could be used by those living and working in areas with environmental and geological challenges that make traditional energy sources difficult to access.
Much of Canada’s oil and gas industry exists in remote northern areas of the country where this is often the case. But no solar solution existed that could withstand such cold temperatures and low light conditions and produce energy all year round.
This is because commonly-used components of solar systems, particularly batteries, don’t perform well in permafrost areas where the sun’s rays are less potent. To solve this problem the company turned to a manufacturer of military grade cases used for transporting and storing missiles. They were perfect containers for the batteries because not only were they strong and well insulated, there was also room to include heaters to keep them warm.
SEI also needed to make sure they could be deployed almost anywhere — a challenge given that most solar arrays require cranes for installation. The company developed a foldable, modular design to solve this problem, which isn’t something the solar industry has attempted before.
Prior to this development, there were no structures with solar panels in Canada that could harness as much energy, while still being able to move around without permanent fixtures. This tech will have uses in the future far beyond just the oil and gas industry.
One of the primary sources of investment that the Government of Canada gives to businesses and organizations operating in this sector is the Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED) program. This tax incentive for innovation allows businesses to claim back expenses incurred on research and development (R&D) activity.
We sat down with Eric Little, founder, and CEO of SEI Logistics to find out his experience and he commented: “When you’re faced with overcoming challenges as great as these are, having access to this kind of funding is invaluable. Knowing we can rely on SR&ED has completely energized our whole approach to innovation. The benefits it brings mean we’re investing more in R&D than ever before.
“Making the most of the SR&ED program is therefore a key part of our strategy but, at first, it can be difficult to gauge what qualifies. The process was a smooth one and we now know what to look for and record so that we get every cent we’re owed. It has become a key part of how we cost our projects and decide which activities are worth proceeding with.”
Richard Hoy, President of Catax Canada, added: “We are fortunate in Canada to have one of the most generous programs in the world for funding R&D. Nevertheless, navigating the specific criteria for claiming SR&ED can be challenging for many organisations carrying out innovation projects. We are frequently reminded just how important good record-keeping is.
“SEI Logistics is carrying out essential work by ensuring that people living and working in some of the most challenging environments of Canada have access to a reliable and green source of energy, and this technology will have uses far beyond the oil and gas industry. This is a perfect example of what SR&ED is designed to support, furthering technical knowledge in the fight against climate change, while also overcoming everyday challenges people face in the far north of the country.”
If you are a business interested in finding out if your work qualifies for tax incentives, set up a discovery call by emailing Richard Hoy, president of specialist tax consultancy Catax Canada, at Richard.Hoy@catax.com.