There are some encouraging signs that investors are shifting away from the dubious economics of subsidized renewable energy production to technologies that focus on energy efficiency. A recent BusinessWeek article notes that the smart money in Europe is shifting from energy generation to such energy-efficiency plays as smart electric meters:

The move from energy generation to energy efficiency was evident among the entrepreneurs in Geneva schmoozing with venture capitalists. They included such companies as Britain’s AlertMe, a startup that uses smart-meter technology and Internet-connected home appliances to provide minute-by-minute updates to customers on how much energy they’re using. Chief Executive Pilgrim Beart says AlertMe technology can cut electricity consumption eight times more cheaply than building new renewables such as wind farms and solar parks. That’s because it reduces household energy use instead of requiring costly new energy infrastructure.

Venture capitalists, particularly those who fund early-stage investment, are switching investment strategies…

…private investors now are focusing on quick, easy-to-implement energy-efficiency companies that won’t take many years—and billions of dollars in funding—to turn a profit. Says one VC in Geneva, who declined to be quoted: “Why would we spend lots of money to fund a technology that may only break even in 2020? That’s not a smart way to make a profit.”