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Special Issue "The Future of Hydropower: Sustainable Practices, Innovative Technologies and New Scientific Insights"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Water Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Emanuele Quaranta
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Joint Research Centre of European Commission, Ispra, Italy
Interests: urban greening and the water-energy nexus; hydraulic turbines; fish friendly solutions; fish passages; low head hydropower
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It is my pleasure to invite you to submit a scientific paper to the special issue “The Future of Hydropower: Sustainable Goals, Planning, Practices, and Technologies”.

Hydropower is a key renewable energy source, especially in the European Union. The annual hydroenergy potentially available, i.e., the gross potential, is estimated to be about 3260 TWh/y in Europe, while the developed potential is estimated to be about 600 TWh/y. It has shifted from a flexible source of energy covering peak loads in a fossil fuel/dominated energy mix towards a function of supporting the flashier solar and wind sources available during the day. At the same time, pumped-hydropower and small hydropower have emerged as a key energy storage and valorization option. On the other side, eco-hydraulic and environmental aspects are always more considered, especially in regard to fish migration and fish habitat alteration. The scope of this Special Issue is to contribute to the development and implementation of both sustainable solutions to make hydropower more environmental friendly, and new technologies and methodologies to make it more flexible, efficienct and economically attractive. Interesting topics are the rehabilitation of old plants, the optimization of hydraulic structures to increase their efficiency and eco-sustainability, fish protection by implementing fish friendly solutions (like fish friendly turbines and fish passages), the optimization of hydropower schemes to reduce environmental impacts, sustainable practices and strategic planning (both at the large and local scale) in light of the Water Framework Directive, and impact/environmental assessments of hydropower plants. Practical implications for engineering applications and for policy decisions are highly encouraged, with a focus on the European Union context.

References:

Gaudard, L., and Franco R.  “The future of hydropower in Europe: Interconnecting climate, markets and policies”. Environmental Science & Policy 43 (2014): 5-14.

Lehner, B., Czisch G., and Vassolo S. "The impact of global change on the hydropower potential of Europe: a model-based analysis." Energy Policy 33.7 (2005): 839-855.

Kougias, I., Aggidis, G., Avellan, F., Deniz, S., Lundin, U., Moro, A., Muntean, S., Novara, D., Pérez-Díaz, J.I., Quaranta, E., Schild, P., and Theodossiou, N. “Analysis of emerging technologies in the hydropower sector”. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews (2019), 113, 109257.

Bódis, K., F. Monforti, and S. Szabó. "Could Europe have more mini hydro sites? A suitability analysis based on continentally harmonized geographical and hydrological data." Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 37 (2014): 794-808.

Yu, L., Jia, B., Wu, S., Wu, X., Xu, P., Dai, J., ... & Ma, L. Cumulative Environmental Effects of Hydropower Stations Based on the Water Footprint Method—Yalong River Basin, China. Sustainability (2019), 11(21), 5958.

Yao, W., Chen, Y., Yu, G., Xiao, M., Ma, X., & Lei, F. Developing a model to assess the potential impact of tum hydropower turbines on small river ecology. Sustainability (2018), 10(5), 1662.

Silva, A. T., Lucas, M. C., Castro‐Santos, T., Katopodis, C., Baumgartner, L. J., Thiem, J. D., ... & Burnett, N. J. The future of fish passage science, engineering, and practice. Fish and Fisheries (2018), 19(2), 340-362.

Quaranta, E. & Revelli, R. Gravity water wheels as micro hydropower energy source: a review based on historic data, design methods, efficiencies and modern optimizations, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews (2018), 97, 414-427

Moran, E. F., Lopez, M. C., Moore, N., Müller, N., & Hyndman, D. W. Sustainable hydropower in the 21st century. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2018), 115(47), 11891-11898.

Deng, Z., Carlson, T. J., Dauble, D. D., & Ploskey, G. R. Fish passage assessment of an advanced hydropower turbine and conventional turbine using blade-strike modeling. Energies (2011), 4(1), 57-67.

Quaranta, E. Stream water wheels as renewable energy supply in flowing water: theoretical considerations, performance assessment and design recommendations. Energy for Sustainable Development (2018), 45, 96-109.

Dr. Emanuele Quaranta
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • hydropower
  • fish-friendly turbines
  • environmental impacts
  • environmental assessment
  • policy decisions

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

Article
Integrated Impact Assessment for Sustainable Hydropower Planning in the Vjosa Catchment (Greece, Albania)
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1514; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031514 - 01 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1319
Abstract
Mitigating climate change, while human population and economy are growing globally, requires a bold shift to renewable energy sources. Among renewables, hydropower is currently the most economic and efficient technique. However, due to a lack of impact assessments at the catchment scale in [...] Read more.
Mitigating climate change, while human population and economy are growing globally, requires a bold shift to renewable energy sources. Among renewables, hydropower is currently the most economic and efficient technique. However, due to a lack of impact assessments at the catchment scale in the planning process, the construction of hydropower plants (HPP) may have unexpected ecological, socioeconomic, and political ramifications in the short and in the long term. The Vjosa River, draining parts of Northern Greece and Albania, is one of the few predominantly free-flowing rivers left in Europe; at the same time its catchment is identified an important resource for future hydropower development. While current hydropower plants are located along tributaries, planned HPP would highly impact the free-flowing main stem. Taking the Vjosa catchment as a case study, the aim of this study was to develop a transferable impact assessment that ranks potential hydropower sites according to their projected impacts on a catchment scale. Therefore, we integrated established ecological, social, and economic indicators for all HPP planned in the river catchment, while considering their capacity, and developed a ranking method based on impact categories. For the Vjosa catchment, ten hydropower sites were ranked as very harmful to the environment as well as to society. A sensitivity analysis revealed that this ranking is dependent upon the selection of indicators. Small HPP showed higher cumulative impacts than large HPP, when normalized to capacity. This study empowers decision-makers to compare both the ranked impacts and the generated energy of planned dam projects at the catchment scale. Full article
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Article
Sneaker, Dweller and Commuter: Evaluating Fish Behavior in Net-Based Monitoring at Hydropower Plants—A Case Study on Brown Trout (Salmo trutta)
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 669; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020669 - 12 Jan 2021
Viewed by 594
Abstract
Monitoring of fish passage at hydropower plants largely relies on stow-fyke-net captures installed downstream of turbine outlets, yet little is known about which fish behavior contributes to reduced catch efficiency. We studied fish-net interactions as well as biological and physical factors potentially influencing [...] Read more.
Monitoring of fish passage at hydropower plants largely relies on stow-fyke-net captures installed downstream of turbine outlets, yet little is known about which fish behavior contributes to reduced catch efficiency. We studied fish-net interactions as well as biological and physical factors potentially influencing behavior in three experiments: (i) fall-through experiment, to measure the general physical ability of a fish to fit through a certain mesh size; (ii) net-perception experiment, where fish were filmed while being exposed to different mesh sizes, flow and lure conditions in a controlled arena setup; and (iii) stow-fyke-net experiment, where fish behavior was recorded using 20 cameras simultaneously inside a stow net during regular hydropower fish monitoring. In total, we analyzed 382 h of video recordings. The material revealed that fish interacted with the net on a high rate, independent of flow conditions, and tried to swim through the mesh regardless of whether their body fits through. Under field conditions, the fish showed three specific behavioral patterns, “sneaking,” “dwelling” and “commuting,” which led to a reduced recapture rate in the catch unit of the stow-fyke net. This study highlights the importance of considering fish behavior in future fish monitoring programs to improve the accuracy of turbine-effect assessments on fish. Full article
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Article
Evaluating Cost Trade-Offs between Hydropower and Fish Passage Mitigation
Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8520; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208520 - 15 Oct 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 906
Abstract
To promote the sustainable management of hydropower, decision makers require information about cost trade-offs between the restoration of fish passage and hydropower production. We provide a systematic overview of the construction, operational, monitoring, and power loss costs associated with upstream and downstream fish [...] Read more.
To promote the sustainable management of hydropower, decision makers require information about cost trade-offs between the restoration of fish passage and hydropower production. We provide a systematic overview of the construction, operational, monitoring, and power loss costs associated with upstream and downstream fish passage measures in the European context. When comparing the total costs of upstream measures across different electricity price scenarios, nature-like solutions (67–88 EUR/kW) tend to cost less than technical solutions (201–287 EUR/kW) on average. Furthermore, nature-like fish passes incur fewer power losses and provide habitat in addition to facilitating fish passage, which presents a strong argument for supporting their development. When evaluating different cost categories of fish passage measures across different electricity price scenarios, construction (45–87%) accounts for the largest share compared to operation (0–1.2%) and power losses (11–54%). However, under a high electricity price scenario, power losses exceed construction costs for technical fish passes. Finally, there tends to be limited information on operational, power loss, and monitoring costs associated with passage measures. Thus, we recommend that policy makers standardize monitoring and reporting of hydraulic, structural, and biological parameters as well as costs in a more detailed manner. Full article
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Article
Effect of Residents’ Involvement with Small Hydropower Projects on Environmental Awareness
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 5994; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12155994 - 25 Jul 2020
Viewed by 960
Abstract
Small hydropower plants utilizing unharnessed energy in existing irrigation systems are a prominent source of renewable energy. In Japan, land improvement districts play a key role in the management of irrigation systems, but face serious problems in terms of management sustainability and require [...] Read more.
Small hydropower plants utilizing unharnessed energy in existing irrigation systems are a prominent source of renewable energy. In Japan, land improvement districts play a key role in the management of irrigation systems, but face serious problems in terms of management sustainability and require participation from non-farmers. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of residents’ involvement in small hydropower projects on their environmental awareness and understanding of the projects’ multifunctional regional value. We administered a questionnaire survey to 238 households in three areas: Itoshiro, Kashimo and Ibigawa. The respondents were categorized into four groups: participation, recognition, knowledge and control. Based on the degree of respondents’ involvement in small hydropower projects, inclusive relationships between their involvement and awareness were revealed. These relationships suggest that the trigger of resident involvement is a key factor in developing sustainable small hydro facilities within existing irrigation systems. Full article
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Article
Numerical Study of a Francis Turbine over Wide Operating Range: Some Practical Aspects of Verification
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4301; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104301 - 25 May 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1253
Abstract
Hydropower plays an essential role in maintaining energy flexibility. Modern designs focus on sustainability and robustness using different numerical tools. Automatic optimization of the turbines is widely used, including low, mini and micro head turbines. The numerical techniques are not always foolproof in [...] Read more.
Hydropower plays an essential role in maintaining energy flexibility. Modern designs focus on sustainability and robustness using different numerical tools. Automatic optimization of the turbines is widely used, including low, mini and micro head turbines. The numerical techniques are not always foolproof in the absence of experimental data, and hence accurate verification is a key component of automatic optimization processes. This work aims to investigate the newly designed Francis runner for flexible operation. Unsteady simulations at 80 operating points of the turbine were conducted. The numerical model consisted of 16 million nodes of hexahedral mesh. A SAS-SST (scale adaptive simulation-shear stress transport) model was enabled for resolving/modeling the turbulent flow. The selected time-step size was equivalent to one-degree angular rotation of the runner. Global parameters, such as efficiency, torque, head and flow rate were considered for proper verification and validation. (1) A complete hill diagram of the turbine was prepared and verified with the reference case. (2) The relative error in hydraulic efficiency was computed and the over trend was studied. This allowed us to investigate the consistency of the numerical model under extreme operating conditions, far away from the best efficiency point. (3) Unsteady fluctuations of runner output torque were studied to identify unstable regions and magnitude of torque oscillations. Full article
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Article
Probabilistic Reliability Enhancement Strategies of Hydro Dominant Power Systems under Energy Uncertainty
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3663; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093663 - 01 May 2020
Viewed by 704
Abstract
Climatic hydrological changes cause considerable seasonal and yearly energy variation in hydro dominant electric power systems. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent in recent years causing dramatic impacts on energy availability in such systems. A significant amount of energy is often wasted [...] Read more.
Climatic hydrological changes cause considerable seasonal and yearly energy variation in hydro dominant electric power systems. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent in recent years causing dramatic impacts on energy availability in such systems. A significant amount of energy is often wasted due to reservoir overflow during wet seasons. By contrast, the scarcity of water in dry seasons results in inadequate power generation to meet the system demand, and therefore degrades overall system reliability. The high risks associated with an extreme dry hydrological condition should not be ignored in long term system adequacy planning of hydro dominant utilities. This paper presents a probabilistic method to incorporate diurnal, seasonal and yearly energy management strategies in run-of-river and storage type hydropower plant planning and operation in order to minimize the adverse impact of energy uncertainty and maintain long-term system adequacy. The impacts of reservoir capacity and demand side management on water utilization and system reliability are investigated with case studies illustrated using the IEEE Reliability Test System modified to create a hydro dominant system. The achieved benefits of reliability enhancement strategies are analyzed and compared in this paper. Full article
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Article
A Comparative Study on the Performance of a Horizontal Axis Ocean Current Turbine Considering Deflector and Operating Depths
Sustainability 2020, 12(8), 3333; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12083333 - 20 Apr 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1019
Abstract
Several different designs and prototypes of ocean current turbines have been tested over recent years. For every design test, emphasis is given to achieving an optimum power output from the flow. In this study, the performance of a Horizontal Axis Ocean Current Turbine [...] Read more.
Several different designs and prototypes of ocean current turbines have been tested over recent years. For every design test, emphasis is given to achieving an optimum power output from the flow. In this study, the performance of a Horizontal Axis Ocean Current Turbine (HAOCT) has been investigated using three-dimensional Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations for three cases, namely, (1) a turbine without a deflector, (2) a turbine with a deflector, and (3) a turbine with a deflector operating at a higher fluid depth. The turbine design was modeled in DesignModeler software and simulations were carried out in commercial CFD software Flow-3D. The Torque Coefficient (Cm) and Power Coefficient (Cp) for the turbine have been investigated for a certain range of Tip-Speed Ratios (TSRs) in a flow velocity of 0.7 m/s. Furthermore, comparisons have been made to demonstrate the effect of the deflector on the performance of the turbine and the influence of a higher fluid pressure on the same. The results from the simulations indicate that the higher value of Cp was achieved for Case 2 as compared to the other two cases. The findings from the study indicate that the use of the deflector enhances the performance of the turbine. Furthermore, a higher fluid pressure acting on the turbine has a significant effect on its performance. Full article
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Article
Classifying Dams for Environmental Flow Implementation in China
Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010107 - 21 Dec 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1451
Abstract
The implementation of environmental flows is of the utmost importance for ecosystem protection and restoration in dammed rivers. A key challenge in optimizing dam regulation is the uncertainty of the ecohydrology relationship between flow release and ecological response. In the present paper, we [...] Read more.
The implementation of environmental flows is of the utmost importance for ecosystem protection and restoration in dammed rivers. A key challenge in optimizing dam regulation is the uncertainty of the ecohydrology relationship between flow release and ecological response. In the present paper, we develop a framework of dam classification to organize the categories of the ecohydrology relationship for implementing environmental flows. Dams are classified from three major categories that differ in dam properties, hydrological alteration, and downstream hydrobiological diversities based on the relationship of hydrology and ecology. Finally, 773 dams in China are screened and ranked into four classes involving a great diversity of environmental flow components. A classification of dams that utilizes the implementation of environmental flows is presented. (1) Class 1 includes dams with rare and endangered fish species in the downstream. It is the category with the highest priority for environmental flow releases and regulation, requiring continuous flow and flood pulse components for fish spawning and migration. (2) Class 2 includes dams with significant hydrological alteration in the downstream. It is the category with second priority for environmental flow releases and regulation, requiring natural hydrological regimes simulation or complete flow component recovery for optimizing the flow duration curve and mitigating adverse impacts of dam operation. (3) Class 3 includes dams with a high degree of regulation where there is urgency for environmental flow releases and regulation, requiring that minimum flow is guaranteed by cascade reservoir regulation. (4) Class 4 includes dams with a low degree of regulation where there is less urgency for environmental flow releases and regulation. This classification method is important for future research, including environmental flow release regulation and the effectiveness evaluation of environmental flow adaptive management. It will be useful for guiding the implementation of environmental flows. Full article
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Review

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Review
Hydropower Case Study Collection: Innovative Low Head and Ecologically Improved Turbines, Hydropower in Existing Infrastructures, Hydropeaking Reduction, Digitalization and Governing Systems
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 8873; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12218873 - 26 Oct 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 4521
Abstract
Hydropower remains a key renewable energy source in the pursuit of the decarbonization of the economy, although the relatively high potential impact of the hydro-morphological alterations it may cause poses significant concerns for aquatic ecosystems. In the last years, new technologies and practices [...] Read more.
Hydropower remains a key renewable energy source in the pursuit of the decarbonization of the economy, although the relatively high potential impact of the hydro-morphological alterations it may cause poses significant concerns for aquatic ecosystems. In the last years, new technologies and practices have been increasingly adopted to minimize the impacts of hydropower plants, while improving efficiency and flexibility of energy generation. The overall effect of these innovations may be a more sustainable design and operation of hydropower, striking a better balance between the objectives of decarbonization and ecosystem protection. This contribution presents and discusses a few representative examples of hydropower installations from companies in Italy, France, Switzerland, Belgium and the USA, where solutions have been adopted in this direction. The case studies cover (1) ecologically improved and low head hydropower converters (Vortex turbine, Hydrostatic Pressure Machine, VLH and Girard-optimized turbines, hydrokinetic turbines), hydropeaking reduction (2) new control systems, governors and digitalization, (3) hydropower as a strategy for local sustainable development and (4) energy recovery in existing hydraulic infrastructures and aqueducts. It was found that better-governing systems can extend the life span of runners, for example avoiding the runner uplift during a trip. Digitalization can improve efficiency by 1.2%. New sustainable practices and turbines with better ecological behavior can minimize environmental impacts, like the reduction of fish mortality, improvement of fish habitat availability, reduction of oil for lubrication purposes and generation of economic incomes for local development. The use of existing structures reduces the total installation cost: examples are the total saving of 277 €/kW by reusing irrigation pipes and reservoirs, or the reduction of the investment period from 9 years to 6 years by turbining the environmental flow. Innovative low head hydropower converters can exhibit good ecological behavior, with reduced costs (<5000 €/kW) especially when installed in existing weirs. Results are discussed, contextualized and generalized to provide engineering data and tools to support future realizations of similar case studies; normalized costs, efficiency improvement, best practices and new technologies are discussed. Full article
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Review
Archimedes Screw Turbines: A Sustainable Development Solution for Green and Renewable Energy Generation—A Review of Potential and Design Procedures
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7352; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187352 - 08 Sep 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2670
Abstract
Archimedes Screws Turbines (ASTs) are a new form of small hydroelectric powerplant that can be applied even in low head sites. ASTs offer a clean and renewable source of energy and are safer for wildlife and especially fish than other hydro generation options. [...] Read more.
Archimedes Screws Turbines (ASTs) are a new form of small hydroelectric powerplant that can be applied even in low head sites. ASTs offer a clean and renewable source of energy and are safer for wildlife and especially fish than other hydro generation options. As with other energy solutions, ASTs are not a global solution for all situations. However, in terms of sustainable development, ASTs can offer many economic, social, and environmental advantages that make them an important option for providing sustainable hydropower development. Archimedes screws can operate in low water heads (less than about 5 m) and a range of flow rates with practical efficiencies of 60% to 80% and can generate up to 355 kW of power. ASTs increase the number of suitable sites where it is possible to develop sustainable hydropower, including in undeveloped, hard to access regions and small communities. At many low head sites, ASTs may be more cost-effective, with lower installation and operating costs than alternative hydropower systems. An AST may also reduce the disturbance of natural sedimentation and erosion processes and have smaller impacts on fish and other fauna. ASTs can often be retrofit to existing unpowered dams or weirs, providing new hydropower capacity for very little marginal environmental impact. This review outlines the characteristics of ASTs, then discusses and analyzes how they could benefit the sustainability of hydropower development. Full article
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Review
State-of-the Art-Powerhouse, Dam Structure, and Turbine Operation and Vibrations
Sustainability 2020, 12(4), 1676; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12041676 - 24 Feb 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2080
Abstract
Dam and powerhouse operation sustainability is a major concern from the hydraulic engineering perspective. Powerhouse operation is one of the main sources of vibrations in the dam structure and hydropower plant; thus, the evaluation of turbine performance at different water pressures is important [...] Read more.
Dam and powerhouse operation sustainability is a major concern from the hydraulic engineering perspective. Powerhouse operation is one of the main sources of vibrations in the dam structure and hydropower plant; thus, the evaluation of turbine performance at different water pressures is important for determining the sustainability of the dam body. Draft tube turbines run under high pressure and suffer from connection problems, such as vibrations and pressure fluctuation. Reducing the pressure fluctuation and minimizing the principal stress caused by undesired components of water in the draft tube turbine are ongoing problems that must be resolved. Here, we conducted a comprehensive review of studies performed on dams, powerhouses, and turbine vibration, focusing on the vibration of two turbine units: Kaplan and Francis turbine units. The survey covered several aspects of dam types (e.g., rock and concrete dams), powerhouse analysis, turbine vibrations, and the relationship between dam and hydropower plant sustainability and operation. The current review covers the related research on the fluid mechanism in turbine units of hydropower plants, providing a perspective on better control of vibrations. Thus, the risks and failures can be better managed and reduced, which in turn will reduce hydropower plant operation costs and simultaneously increase the economical sustainability. Several research gaps were found, and the literature was assessed to provide more insightful details on the studies surveyed. Numerous future research directions are recommended. Full article
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