What happened

Clean Energy Fuels (NASDAQ:CLNE)First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR)Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG)Ballard Power (NASDAQ:BLDP), and FuelCell Energy (NASDAQ:FCEL).

These are just a few of the alternative energy companies that are doing their darnedest to save the world from global energy by pioneering a green energy boom that will free the world from dependence upon traditional fossil fuels -- in a word: oil.

Sadly, they're also all victims of today's market rout.

As of 11:55 a.m. EDT today, shares of Clean Energy were down 10.2%, First Solar 5.5%, Plug Power 6.9%, Ballard Power 8.2%, and FuelCell Energy a mind-numbing 13.1%.

Oil derricks at sunset

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

And if you were unlucky enough to succumb to the even greater panic that held sway in the market this morning, you might have sold these stocks closer to their lows today. Each of the five companies named above fell at least 10% in early Monday trading -- and FuelCell fell more than 27%!

What's the reason(s) for this panic? The COVID-19 coronavirus obviously. But also the sudden price war in oil markets, with Saudi Arabia cutting prices in revenge over Russia refusing to cut production in tandem with OPEC last week.

Now what

What does the oil market have to do with alternative energy stocks attempting to free us from subjection to the oil market? Actually, everything.

Because natural gas (Clean Energy), solar power (First Solar), and hydrogen fuel cells (Plug, Ballard, and FuelCell Energy) are all offering alternatives to oil. And the cheaper oil gets, the less attractive alternatives to oil become -- and the less profitable companies offering those alternatives can be.

So keep a close eye on the oil market, fellow Fools. Whether Russia and Saudi Arabia smooth over their dispute -- and how long it takes for them to do so -- will have a significant effect upon the prices of these five stocks.