Solar photovoltaic (PV) power generation is prone to drastic changes due to cloud cover. The power is easily affected within a very short period of time. Thus, the accuracy of grasping cloud distribution is important for PV power forecasting. This study proposes a novel sky image method to obtain the cloud coverage rate used for short-term PV power forecasting. The authors developed an image analysis algorithm from the sky images obtained by an on-site whole sky imager (WSI). To verify the effectiveness of cloud coverage rate as the parameter for PV power forecast, four different combinations of weather features were used to compare the accuracy of short-term PV power forecasting. In addition to the artificial neural network (ANN) model, long short-term memory (LSTM) and the gated recurrent unit (GRU) were also introduced to compare their applicability conditions. After a comprehensive analysis, the coverage rate is the key weather feature, which can improve the accuracy by about 2% compared to the case without coverage feature. It also indicates that the LSTM and GRU models revealed better forecast results under different weather conditions, meaning that the cloud coverage rate proposed in this study has a significant benefit for short-term PV power forecasting.