SolarCity, the San Mateo, Calif.-based solar-panel installation firm backed by SpaceX founder Elon Musk, went public Dec.13. By midday, shares had risen 50 percent from their $8 IPO price.

Musk took his electric car company, Tesla Motors, public in 2010 and says he plans ultimately to do the same with SpaceX. Although Tesla’s stock has had its ups and downs, the share price has doubled since the debut.

SolarCity’s Nasdaq debut garnered a lot of attention  partly “because of the star power of” Musk, the company’s chairman and largest shareholder, the Wall Street Journal reported this morning shortly after the opening bell. 

Additionally, the high-profile company is seen by some as a candidate to buck the recent trend for weak IPOs from firms tied to the clean-energy industry. The company was co-founded by Mr. Musk’s cousins Lyndon and Peter Rive.

“This has been on a lot of peoples’ radar from the outset,” said Tim Keating, CEO for Keating Capital, a Greenwood Village, Colo., company that makes investments in closely held companies that plan to go public, but doesn’t own shares of SolarCity. “The question was: Can this IPO be the clean-tech ice breaker?”

But the company had trouble finding investor demand. The deal was delayed by one day, its price was cut, and backers including Mr. Musk and venture-capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson pledged to buy a chunk of the offering.

The rest of the Wall Street Journal’s SolarCity story can be read here.

Brian Berger is editor in chief of and the SpaceNews magazine. He joined in 1998, spending his first decade with the publication covering NASA. He was named senior staff writer in 2004, a position he held...