Much of the talk at an alternative energy panel discussion I attended yesterday was about smart grids and their impact on energy demand in the future. And yet, it doesn’t seem a lot of venture capital is going into the sector:

here in this column we’ve talked quite a lot recently about how the cleantech VC community seems to be much more vocal about targeting capital-efficient energy efficiency and smart grid investments these days.

Except that I took a look at the details in the Q1 2009 Cleantech Venture Monitor (another great job by Cleantech Group’s Brian Fan and colleagues), and there’s no evidence yet of such a shift.

In their tally, solar remains the big dog, at almost 35% of all cleantech venture dollars in the quarter.  That’s just barely down from the ~38% it captured in Q1 of last year, for example.

Biofuels and transportation (not exactly the poster children for capital efficient investment areas) continue to be other big targets for VC dollars, at ~10% and ~20% respectively.

And where is “smart grid”?  At under a 5% share.  In the Cleantech Group’s methodology, energy efficiency investments tend to be spread across a number of different categories, but even the “green buildings” category garnered only ~10%, about the same as in Q1 2008.

Could it be because the Ciscos of this world already have the market wrapped up?