Perfect Sense Energy: sustainability is at the forefront of what we do

Manchester-based Perfect Sense Energy was founded in 2010. The commercial solar company has a strong desire to make a difference, and provides businesses with ethical renewable energy.

Gary Brandwood of Perfect Sense Energy

Claudia Weeks, writing for Renewable Energy Installer, spoke with Managing Director Gary Brandwood, to learn more about the development of the business and plans for the future.

Renewable energy solutions

“Since its formation in 2010, Perfect Sense Energy has developed a strong reputation in the industry using extensive experience to assess, identify, design and deliver energy-saving and renewable energy solutions,” Gary began. “We built very solid foundations by forming a highly experienced team. The last four years have been both tumultuous and challenging, whilst also allowing us to scale and achieve exceptional growth.

“Originally it was just me for a good few years, then we hired Charlotte Reynolds, at the start of 2015, who is now our Head of Business Support. Ryan Thomas (originally an apprentice now Technical Manager) followed with Ian Marr joining in 2017 and now Head of Sales.

“As with all small businesses, everyone mucked in to get the jobs done. We have now grown to 28 staff within the Perfect Sense Energy team and 40 in the group, which includes the electrical contracting and scaffolding teams.

“We bought our first premises in 2017 which were oversized at the time for the seven employees. However, that was when our growth really kicked off and, in 2023, we acquired our new HQ business centre to accommodate our group staff of over 40 employees!

“The last three years have seen turnover increase by 200% each year with staff numbers roughly doubling each year as well. We have gone from a £1m turnover company in 2019/20 to a £9m turnover company now. Buying our new £900k HQ and installing our first 1MW rooftop are the two stand-out milestones for me.”

The CIS Tower in Manchester

The CIS Tower in Manchester was formerly one of the country’s tallest buildings. It remained as built for over 40 years until maintenance issues on the service tower meant an extensive renovation was required. The work carried out included covering three sides of the skyscraper’s exterior in solar panels.

For many years, the CIS Tower was Europe’s largest vertical solar array. The electricity generated contributes to powering the building’s 25 floors where over 4,000 people work, and numerous restaurants are found. 5,000 solar panels covered 3,200 square meters with a total output of 391kW, generating 180,000kWh of electricity.

Gary explains why the CIS Tower is so significant to Perfect Energy: “The CIS solar installation sparked my interest in Solar PV. I worked at Co-op Insurance HQ around the time the tower had its solar installed. At that time, it was the largest vertically mounted PV system in Europe and was opened by the Prime Minister at the time, Tony Blair.

“Shortly after this, a financial crash came in 2008/09 and I was made redundant along with approx. 3000 others from the Co-Op. Taking the opportunity to change career direction, I turned my focus to climate change and making a positive difference. I am profoundly grateful to those

pioneers who chose to pursue the sustainability path at the Cooperative Group before it was fashionable as they influenced me to dedicate my career to renewable energy.”

The need for rapid workforce growth

With the need for rapid growth in the installer workforce, Claudia asked Gary for his thoughts on how we can encourage new installers to enter the sector or to upskill from traditional tech. “This a conversation we have had with our friends at Solis Inverters, Green Economy and Pro-Manchester recently,” Gary shared. “And something we have spoken about with our peers on the Net Zero Future Leaders Programme, which was kindly sponsored by MCS.

“Visibility and access are needed; there is a huge skill and experience gap currently and the bottom line is that, without more boots on the ground, we will fall short of renewables targets.

“There needs to be deeper collaboration between education establishments and renewable installation businesses. The pathways and routes to skill acquisition need to be clearer and shouted about more – they can still be quite murky at times. Renewable roles currently get bundled with general electrical routes to market but should really stand on their own.”

Sustainability at the forefront

Gary explained more about the company’s growth: “Perfect Sense Energy offers a range of solutions, such as LED, EV chargers, smart controls, infrared heating, and battery storage that are tailored to the client’s needs and sit alongside their solar system.

“Solar is our focus but when we started out over 70% of our work was LED lighting upgrade projects which was the lowest hanging fruit for many at the time. Over time this has phased down and now over 90% of our revenue is related to solar installation and maintenance contracts.”

Perfect Sense Energy offers sustainable solutions to businesses and organisations. “We work in partnership with a lot of great organisations to support them and their clients on their solar journey. We also get a lot of business from existing customer referrals; it helps that solar is highly visible and businesses like to shout about the environmentally positive changes they have made.

“We pride ourselves on giving the best advice for the client; if the system is not right for them, or a better option exists, we will always share that information. We also operate very ethically with a robust supply chain and audit process, and we practice what we preach with our own commitments to net zero. Naturally, sustainability is at the forefront of what we do, and underpins every decision we make.

Government strategy

Asked for his thoughts on recent government announcements and net zero strategies, Gary replied: “The changes to planning and DNO backlogs are good – they should help larger projects move quicker. DEFRA support has been good, and it is nice to have some support and incentivisation for solar uptake in the agricultural sector.

“However, it is, quite frankly, criminal to issue new oil and gas extraction licences, despite acknowledging the harm to the environment and the damage it will do to the achievement of 2030 and 2050 targets. They are going against their own advice and, in some cases, are also in violation of local planning policies. Hopefully, we will see a change of government this year who will do better – as they couldn’t possibly be worse, in my opinion!

“Government backing is always a concern in this industry. The waxing and waning of policy and support at the national level is particularly challenging.

“I would like to say that we are blessed in Greater Manchester to be in the most forward-thinking region for sustainability and renewables. It is a significant positive for us that our local region is a flag ship – due in no small part to the hugely collaborative organisations that exist here.”


With businesses eager to impress with their green credentials, Gary highlights his concerns over the increase in ‘greenwashing’: “There are organisations that seek to tick boxes and avoid doing the real work of carbon reduction by disguising their action with greenwashing. For me, the only solution is for government to stop pandering to offenders and penalise them aggressively for actively misleading people.

“At the same time, we must be careful to not discourage organisations from starting their journey and taking positive steps by berating them for not getting it right along the way. We should encourage, collaborate, and support all businesses to do the right thing in their own way.”

Making a positive change

Gary is clearly passionate about his role and the lasting impact that his business will have so what is it that he most enjoys about working in the renewable energy sector: “Delivering long- lasting benefit for people, prosperity and the planet must be high up there,” he enthuses.

“There is also a feel-good factor – coming to work every day and making a positive change for future generations is really empowering. Not to mention the brilliant people in the renewable energy/ sustainability space!”

Perfect Sense Energy has been recognised for its impressive contribution to the industry and has already won several awards as Gary explained: “We have already won several solar install awards, and we are again nominated for installer of the year in 2024.

“For us, we know we do an excellent job for our clients but the external validation of that is both great for us to hear but also for our clients too. Their fantastic schemes are the reason we win these

awards. It also gives new clients reassurance that we are a safe pair of hands in a sector that has had issues with inferior quality installs in the past with a risk of the same problem resurfacing.

And the best piece of advice Gary has been given in this industry? “Consistently do the right thing and success will follow!”

Nothing is off the table when riding the solar coaster!

The future looks bright for Perfect Sense Energy and Gary is clearly looking forward to it: “Nothing is off the table when riding the solar coaster! We are looking to continue to grow, improve and become more transparent, ethical, and sustainable in everything we do.

“Misconception and lack of understanding around renewables is still quite high, so more education is needed at all levels of businesses – we are here to help.

“We believe purpose-led businesses like ours can pave the way and lead the charge that is needed now to battle climate change. We intend to be there guiding, supporting, and delivering solutions for a long time to come. We have space at Oakland House to keep growing for the next 5 years at least!”

REI wishes Gary and the team at Perfect Sense Energy all the best for an exciting 2024 and looks forward to catching up again in the future to hear all about their progress and developments.

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