What happened 

Shares of renewable energy stocks had a volatile day on Tuesday as the market crashed, but some good news came out of the industry. The most notable moves included Enphase Energy (NASDAQ:ENPH) falling 9% early in the day before recovering and trading flat at 12:15 p.m. EDT. Fuel cell companies Bloom Energy (NYSE:BE) and Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG) also fell 8.4% and 5.5%, respectively, before recovering. As I'm writing, Bloom Energy stock is down 2.9% and Plug Power is up 3.3% for the day. 

The broad sell-off early was a reaction to a broader energy collapse today. As of this writing, oil prices are down 7.1% and the S&P 500 is down 1.9% for the day. That sell-off can pull lots of shares lower, but as the day wore on, more important news caused a recovery in renewable energy shares. 

Wind, solar, and hydrogen assets in a forest setting

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Fuel cell stocks have to be at least a little encouraged by today's news that General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Nikola (NASDAQ:NKLA) are partnering to build the Nikola Badger. Nikola will use GM's fuel cells globally, potentially opening up the passenger vehicle market to the technology. 

While this agreement doesn't have anything directly to do with Bloom Energy or Plug Power, investors often see any good news for fuel cells as good news for the entire industry. And that's likely helping with the recovery of fuel cell stocks today. 

Enphase is a solar company, but it is often affected by other renewable energy stock moves and oil more broadly. While energy stocks may be trading lower, solar energy installations aren't affected by oil prices because they compete with electricity from the utility, so the recovery of early losses makes sense once the market got its senses back. And if fuel cell economics improve because companies like Bloom Energy, Plug Power, and GM increase production, it'll help with renewable energy and solar installations overall. 

Now what

Long-term investors can chalk up the drop this morning and most of the recovery later in the day to normal market volatility. The market overall is down today, and that will pull volatile stocks like Enphase, Bloom Energy, and Plug Power down all on its own. But the drop in oil this morning had renewable energy stocks hit almost double digits on early fears about the energy industry that were mostly overblown. 

When you take the long-term view, the potential adoption of fuel cells and a broader growth in renewable energy may be bullish news for today. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.