Modelling and Assessment

MAXUS // Synergizing water, food and energy policy

By Rogier E. A. Burger. In this study an optimization model framework is proposed, titled ‘MAXUS’, specifically designed to address the shortfalls of current models. It was built to customize a model for a specific Nexus study. To test the methodology of MAXUS it was applied to a case study for Ghana and Burkina Faso. Allocation of water and land resources for the final supply of WEF was optimized over space and time, for the objective and constraints given.

It demonstrates how sectors could respond in harmony to changes occurring in one of the sectors. The model shows non-trivial, multi-sectoral, spatial and temporal trade-offs for operational management and infrastructural planning of WEF sectors. For example, changing locations of proposed irrigation capacity because of an increase in electricity demand. Moreover, the case study demonstrated how it can support in decision making on cross-border cooperation by means of separate optimization for Ghana and Burkina Faso. It showed how sharing resources and open trade would lead to a large reduction in infrastructural requirements. In case of non-cooperation, it would be beneficial for Burkina Faso to expand reservoir storage capacity and irrigation capacity on a much larger basis than in case of cooperation. Mainly because it would not benefit from hydropower production generated in Ghana in case of noncooperation. 

It also showed how thermal power production would have to fill up the gap in electricity supply and how food imports would need to compensate for the loss in food production. MAXUS is built to serve in a wide range of nexus studies. Hence, it is scalable in time and space, has an adaptable data structure and allows customization of objectives, balances, constraints dimensions and decision variables.

Using Maxus to customize a model for a specific cases study requires broad expertise. It requires engineers to set-up the equations for the model, experts in different sectors that understand the interactions, and local experts that now the conditions that apply in the case study area. Furthermore, it demands policymakers to think through their ambitions, their preferences, their range of possible interventions and governance actions, and the influences of their decisions on each of the WEF sectors. Exploring strategies for responding to developments in the WEF sectors requires cooperation of all sectors.


  • 1. Introduction
    • 1.1 Defining the WEF Nexus
    • 1.2 WEF governance
      • Example of complex links
      • Nexus in Business
    • 1.3 Current analysis models
    • 1.4 Strategies for an improved model
    • 1.5 Research objective
  • 2. Maxus
    • 2.1 Steps to model a nexus case study
    • 2.2 Programming framework
    • 2.3 Analyzation methods
  • 3. Case study
    • 3.1 Qualitative study
      • Ghana & Burkina Faso
    • 3.2 Methods & Methodology
      • Assumptions
      • Data
    • 3.2 Results
    • 3.4 Discussion
    • 3.6 Conclusions
    • 3.7 Further research
  • 4. Discussion
  • 5. Conclusions


TU Delft website


March 2018#


Rogier E. A. Burger

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