Alternative energy continues to claim market share in the energy sector, and some alternative energy companies are prospering. A few companies combine alternative energy and conventional energy to survive, while others attempt to focus exclusively on alternate power generation. (See also: The World's Top 5 Alternative Energy Companies.)

As oil prices rise, traditional energy companies will no doubt dominate the energy sector, but alternative energy is here to stay, and the companies on this list have the potential to make investors some money in 2017. The stock charts on each of these companies show positive developments that could create upward momentum for the year. All figures are current as of February 23, 2017.

NRG Yield Inc.

NRG Yield (NYLD-A) is not a pure alternative energy play, but it does own and operate renewable energy assets. The company was founded in 2012.

This stock had a remarkable 2016. It began rising from around $9 per share in February 2016 and climbed above $17 by September.

It has since formed a base that looks like it may be a cup with handle formation. If it completes this pattern, it may break out once again.

MagneGas Corp.

Though MagneGas (MNGA) is listed on the Nasdaq, it is a penny stock right now, trading at about $0.50 per share. This means that it's a penny stock and investors should proceed with caution. However, the stock has the potential to move dramatically upward because of the company’s continuing inroads into waste-to-energy conversion. (See also: MagneGas Makes Move to Boost Revenue.)

MagneGas owns a process for converting waste into usable fuel. It signed an agreement to deliver that fuel to the New York City Department of Transportation and a major automaker (yet unnamed). In addition, it has developed a distribution system that is expanding its influence in the United States.

The stock dropped in mid-November, but looks like it is forming a base that could be a setup for a breakout.

Atlantica Yield PLC

Atlantica Yield (ABY) owns renewable energy generation assets. It generates power through solar energy and wind.

Revenues have shown solid gains for four years straight, and operating income has grown dramatically during that same period. The stock pays a dividend of 3.05 percent.

Buyers stepped in during early 2017 and bought shares, giving the stock a high-volume breakout, At the same time, the 50-day moving average crossed above the 200-day moving average. This is called a “golden cross,” and is considered bullish by investors.

If ABY continues to perform as it is now, 2017 could be a good year for this stock.

Covanta Holding Corp.

Covanta Holding (CVA) provides waste services to cities in the United States and Canada. The company has developed assets that convert waste to energy. CVA owns 45 plants that are involved in converting waste and sells metal that is a byproduct of the waste-conversion process.

The stock is forming a golden cross as its 50-day moving average looks like it will move above the 200-day average. Daily volatility can be high, so this is one to buy only for those who are willing to ride out some dramatic moves in the stock price.

The Bottom Line

Alternative energy is mainstream enough now that investors can find companies that are extremely viable. Our list has one penny stock, but all the companies have a track record of securing contracts for their products and services. Nevertheless, the companies are relatively small compared to the giants of the energy sector, so they are subject to being nudged out of the competition.

Owning alternative energy stocks means staying abreast of news in the field and watching individual companies to see if they are capable of generating increasing revenues quarter-over-quarter.

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