Wind energy is a key technology in the transition toward a low-carbon society, but acceptance is considered to be a constraining factor in achieving ambitious wind deployment targets. Based on an Austrian case study, this paper investigates eight decisive patterns of acceptance and non-acceptance of wind energy. We apply qualitative research methods, such as interviews, focus groups, and WorldCafé discussions, with stakeholders on the national level and with citizens and local decision-makers at potential wind power expansion sites. The results show that local opposition to wind energy cannot be explained by single factors but is caused by a complex set of individual and collective preferences rooted in institutional and socio-political arrangements. The problem concerning these conflicting patterns is that they are trapped in often opposing or confronting policy core beliefs, which are unlikely to change. Hence, it is necessary to appeal to overarching targets like the claims of environmental justice to counterbalance the impacts of wind energy. We conclude that there is a strong demand for fair decision-making processes and an equal distribution of environmental and economic gains and losses.This article is part of a Virtual Special Issue entitled 'The collaborative "making" of Energy Landscapes'.