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Alumni Profile

Joël André Ornstein

Joël André Ornstein, SM ’78

President, Majorn Corp.

  • Pioneer in alternative asset and private equity investing
  • Significant focus on energy investments
  • Member of two MIT Sloan Executive Boards

In the next 70 years, as much as 70 percent of the world’s energy could come from solar technology deployed in space.

That may seem like sci-fi, but it’s not, said Joël André Ornstein, a private investor who works with a long view of the world’s energy needs and technologies. According to Ornstein, space-based solar power is a reality and is on the radar for “substantial countries.”

“The technology exists,” he said. “The implementation is another story, to do it on a global scale, but the actual technology, which is microwaves, is not sci-fi.”

Then again, said Ornstein, who has invested in the Switzerland-based Space Energy, that idea may not turn out to be central to the future of energy. The future may be in clean coal, natural gas, or any one of the marquee alternative energy sources—solar, wind, biomass—or in something else, entirely.

“The world really needs to continue to develop all of those,” Ornstein said of alternative energy sources, pointing to natural gas and clean coal as promising energy sources. And he believes how energy is delivered will be just as important as how energy is developed.

“Eventually, there will be some winners, but we don’t know yet,” he said. “The key will be the energy delivery system to end users, not unlike social media Internet platforms of today.”

The French-born Ornstein is president of New York City-based Majorn Corp., his private investment group formed in 1989 as a joint venture with the then-nascent Carlyle Group and a Paris-based holding company, which now controls, among others, the global Casino Group supermarket chain. Majorn works on a global basis backing Clermont Energy Partners, an oil and gas merchant banking team in London; New York-based MerSan Capital Holdings; and Paris-based investment bank ACXIOR Corporate Finance. The corporation is also involved with a clean coal effort in China, a biomass company in Germany, and a wind power project in Europe.

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