Algae and jatropha, two types of promising and unconventional biomass, are investigated in this study for large-scale production of biodiesel. The aim is to evaluate the potential advantages and the magnitude of closeness of life cycle balances between these two biodiesel pathways compared to fossil diesel, by taking into account possible uncertainties. The geographical location of this study is India with a prospect of utilizing available wastelands in southern regions. The results indicate that the environmental performance of algal biodiesel is comparable to that of jatropha biodiesel. Both show significant GHG emission and fossil energy depletion reductions which are in the range of 36-40 and 10-25% respectively compared to fossil diesel in the studied geographic context. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.