Renewable energy plays an important role in the transition to a low emission society, yet in many regions energy projects have resulted in increasing societal polarization. Based on a comprehensive literature review and a survey among stakeholders from specific regions in Germany, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Poland and Spain with little prior experience with wind energy, we highlight six categories of factors that shape community acceptance of onshore wind energy development: technical characteristics of wind energy projects, environmental impacts, economic impacts, societal impacts, contextual factors and individual characteristics. We identify key similarities in acceptance-related patterns of wind energy development across the selected regions, but also important differences, highlighting the very context-specific nature of community acceptance. The findings contribute to improving the understanding of the forces, factors and relationships at play between policy frameworks and perceptions of wind energy under different conditions. We conclude by proposing policy recommendations regarding measures to increase the positive impacts and reduce the negative impacts of wind energy projects, and to strengthen existing drivers and reduce barriers to community acceptance of wind energy development.