What happened

Many stocks in the alternative energy sector jumped Monday morning. Shares of hydrogen fuel cell company Plug Power (PLUG -7.45%) rose as much as 3.6%, while hydrogen-powered vehicle maker Hyzon Motors (HYZN -5.29%) soared nearly 15% at its peak. Solar technology company First Solar (FSLR -2.56%) was up as much as 2.4%. 

While there was a catalyst for those moves, the gains didn't all hold, as technology stocks represented by the Nasdaq Composite Index went from a 1% rise into negative territory. As of 3:10 p.m. ET, Plug stock had also gone negative, down 1.9%. First Solar and Hyzon Motors, however, held on to gains of 0.4% and 7%, respectively. 

So what

The initial surge came after a deal was reported for powering the country's first hydrogen-powered train. That was a reminder for investors of the future potential for these and other stocks in the renewable energy sector

While word that Ballard Power Systems would supply six fuel cell engines to power the first hydrogen train in the U.S. didn't directly impact Plug or Hyzon, it's easy to see why investors associated other hydrogen fuel companies with the news. Last week, Ballard also announced it would be supplying fuel cell modules for a fleet of seven hydrogen passenger trains in Germany. That fleet will be the Berlin and Brandenburg region's first hydrogen-powered rail network.

Now what

Those deals show there is growing momentum for developing more uses for hydrogen as a fuel. Plug Power management has been investing based on that exact premise. The company has been building out a network of green hydrogen production facilities across the United States. It has also announced deals to provide electrolyzers for producing hydrogen in Europe. 

Last month, the company said it was expanding its relationship with Amazon to supply the e-commerce giant with liquid green hydrogen to fuel its operations beginning in 2025. Plug has already been supplying Amazon and other companies with fuel cells to power forklifts in warehouse operations. But the new agreement shows Amazon wants to expand the use of hydrogen to help attain its climate goals. 

Hyzon makes hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles, so it also has much to gain from a growing hydrogen economy. The company has had issues recently that have hit its stock price. Hyzon had to delay its most recent quarterly report filing after it discovered "operational inefficiencies" at its European joint venture facility. It also subsequently appointed a new CEO.

When investors saw the update on the country's first hydrogen train today, they looked beyond those issues for now, boosting renewable energy company stocks like Plug, Hyzon, and First Solar.