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SolarCity's IPO: what it means for cleantech

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SolarCity's stock, which debuted Thursday in an initial public offering on the NASDAQ, was up nearly 50 percent to close at $11.79. Today, in it's second day of trading, the shares have maintained their gains.

The solar installer's positive debut has prompted lots of praise for the company, which made a last-minute decision to lower the opening price to $8, down from the $13 to $15 range set back in November. The solar company's investors, including its chairman Elon Musk, also did well.

The company's success should give folks at tech startups, particularly those in cleantech, some cause to smile. It has, after all, been a mixed year for tech IPOs. As Venture Beat notes, consumer tech companies like Facebook and Yelp watched their stock fall after their IPOs, while enterprise firms, such as Palo Alto Networks and Workday did better.

Cleantech, on the other hand, has struggled this year. The electric vehicle industry has suffered a number of blows with Fisker Automotive and Coda laying off workers and battery maker A123 Systems filing for bankruptcy protection. And then there's the solar manufacturing industry, which is currently going through a painful consolidation largely driven by a plummet in prices and slackening demand in regions like Europe.

The rough year has created skittishness around the sector as a whole, and likely played into the decision to lower SolarCity's opening share price.

While SolarCity's success does provide a glimmer of hope for cleantech, it certainly isn't a guarantee of smoother days ahead. However, the stock's strong standing does show investors may be warming up to the solar industry, particularly on the installer side. That may mean more solar company IPO in 2013.

Photo: SolarCity

— By on December 14, 2012, 1:19 AM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure