The most significant challenge facing the global energy sector today is the fact that at the beginning of the 21st century, two billion people in the world have no access to commercial energy, while another two billion can access only unreliable and often unaffordable supplies.

Unlike oil and natural gas, coal is widely distributed around the world. The global reserves of coal exist in significant amounts in more than 75 countries; however, nearly 75% of global coal reserves are concentrated in a few countries: USA, Russia, China, India and Australia. Coal is most often both produced and used in the region of origin.