Still, the central core of the complaints — that Musk is making an endless capital call on the markets to fund some futuristic idea of a solar utility giant — is essentially correct.
And that's good news. You can argue with his execution — or whether this combination with Tesla was the right way to do this — but the vision is big and bold and the technology is moving in his direction.
Musk's vision is pretty clear: He wants to be the Con Ed of solar energy. He wants to be the first company that generates, stores and transports solar energy in a truly big way.
And he is not thinking too hard about how much money he is asking from his "believers." He is thinking 10 years down the road.
Because the relentless march of solar technology — like that of silicon chips — is working in his favor.
Ramez Naam, a technologist and Energy and Environmental Systems Faculty at the Singularity University and author of the award-winning Nexus trilogy, recently spoke about the growth of solar technologies at the Exponential Finance Conference in New York.
His main points:
That sounds pretty slow, but remember the technologies keep improving. A 2015 study predicts that solar could contribute 20 percent of total electricity consumption by 2030.
Bottom line: The short-term skepticism is understandable.
Philip Shen and Justin Clare of Roth Capital Partners expressed that skepticism perfectly in a note to clients this morning: "While we acknowledge the virtue of Mr. Musk's clean energy vision and mission (philosophically we support them), we do wonder if his vision truly needs to happen through the integration of these two companies."
Fair point. Commingling the risks and challenges of SolarCity with the risks and challenges of Tesla may or may not be the best way to advance the solar agenda.
But don't take your eye off the long-term picture. Solar is going to be a very big part of our energy future, and Tesla has just made a play to be a major factor in that equation.